Teenage gun possession is linked to drug usage and fighting at school, according to a new study.
Dr. Sonali Rajan of Columbia University and Dr. Kelly Ruggles of the Center for Health Information and Biometrics worked together to survey 84,000 students between 2001 and 2011 about their behavior.
The survey asked teens if they carried a gun within the last 30 days, plus other questions about their behavior.
Carrying a gun – according to the survey – was more likely to be tied to drug use and fighting in school rather than mental health disorders such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
Mental health issues were in the mix of responses, but they were less likely to be associated with carrying a gun than drug use.
The researchers feel the findings show that society could be attacking the gun possession issue the wrong way.
“Our work takes [the recommendations] one step further and says we need to place an emphasis on the school environment, it’s not just about addressing mental health – but from a public health and prevention standpoint … cultivating from a young age school environments where students feel respected by their peers and teachers and vice versa,” Rajan said to Huffington Post.
Ruggles agreed with his research partner.
“The point really is that we need to look at the comprehensive whole child, all the different things making up how kids are feeling in their environment,” he said.
The research was published Nov. 5 in PLOS One.