A majority of U.S. teens say they used violence in the past year, and one in five high school-age boys took a weapon to school, according to a new survey conducted by the California-based Josephson Institute of Ethics.
Forty-seven percent of high school students said they could obtain a gun if they wanted to, while 22 percent of middle school students said they could get a firearm, according to a nationwide survey conducted last year by the nonprofit, nonpartisan institute.
"The seeds of violence can be found in schools all over America," said Institute of Ethics President Michael Josephson. "Today's teens, especially boys, have a high propensity to use violence when they are angry, they have easy access to guns, drugs and alcohol, and a disturbing number take weapons to school."
The random survey, conducted last year among more than 15,000 teen-agers at schools nationwide, showed that 75 percent of boys and 60 percent of girls said they had hit someone out of anger in the past year.
Students who use drugs and alcohol at school are even more likely to obtain and carry weapons, the survey of about 15,800 high school and middle school students revealed. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The study revealed that 19 percent of high school boys and 9 percent of middle school boys admitted to being drunk at school within the last year, compared to 12 percent of high school girls and 5 percent of middle school girls.
While 14 percent of high school students and 11 percent of middle school students reported bringing a weapon to school within the last twelve months, 48 percent of high school students and 57 percent of middle school students who admitted coming to school drunk said they brought a weapon to school during that period.
The prevalence of weapons in schools and a cavalier attitude toward violence has taken its toll on students' peace of mind, the survey showed. More than one in three high school students surveyed said they don't feel safe at school.
"To us, the key is to make kids better decision makers, and that is something we as parents have failed to do," said Institute spokesman Tom DeCair. "Parents are the first line of defense in building a kid's character."
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