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J Adolesc Health. 1993 Jul;14(5):350-5.

Youth in detention and handguns.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.


The objective of this work was to describe the frequency and correlates of handgun ownership and firearm injury experiences among youth in a detention facility. A convenience sample of 89 males detained in the King County Youth Services Center, a short-term holding facility, voluntarily completed an anonymous survey. Results showed that 59% of the youth reported owning a handgun. Firearm experiences included carrying a gun to school (46%); firing at another person (68% of handgun owners); firearm injury to self (27%); death of a close friend or family member to firearm homicide or suicide (35%). Personal safety far exceeded recreational use of guns as motivation for self-arming (52% versus 4%). Handgun ownership was more common among youth who reported problem behaviors. Adjusting for age and controlling for covariation of the problem behaviors, gang membership [odds ratio (OR) 6.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-26.1], committing assault and battery (OR 7.7; 95% CI 2.2-26.8) and selling drugs (OR 3.6; 95% CI 0.99-13.4) were associated with handgun ownership. Our conclusion was that firearm experiences for youth in detention pose health risks equal to or far exceeding other high-risk behaviors in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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