Research Watch: Saying Yes to Guns

Diana Zuckerman
July 1, 2001

Just how common are guns in urban homes, and how do youth feel about them? According to this study, guns are a very accepted fact of urban life.

Questionnaires were distributed to 342 youths in grades 9 through 12 in three public high schools in Manhattan and the Bronx. The youths were from both working and welfare families. Almost 20 percent reported a gun in their homes, more than 40 percent had ever had a gun in their homes, 43 percent thought it was OK for anyone to own a gun, and 88 percent thought it was OK for children and teens to have guns. Boys were more likely than girls to agree with the last two statements.

More than half (57 percent) said that a gun had injured either them or a relative. This was reported by 80 percent of those in households with guns, and by 42 percent of those who did not live in households with guns.

When asked about the sources of “excessive amounts of gun violence” in their everyday lives, one-third listed police, one-quarter listed movies and 13 percent listed music as the greatest influences. Television was listed by only 3 percent, which was lower than video games, friends or the news.

These teens said they don’t talk to adults about guns. Less than 12 percent said they had felt the need to talk to an adult about guns at least once. Almost two out of three said they would be honest if asked about guns by a doctor, and they seemed even more willing to talk to other adults. Although youth workers are unlikely to be approached to talk about guns, they may want to bring up the subject and take that opportunity to try to listen to kids talk about the guns and violence in their lives.

Zuckerman, Diana. "Saying Yes to Guns." Research Watch review of "Attitudes of New York City High School Students Regarding Firearm Violence".Youth Today, July/August 2001, p. 10.

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