Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1863–1872 | Cite as

Weapon Carrying, Physical Fighting and Gang Membership Among Youth in Washington State Military Families

  • Sarah C. Reed
  • Janice F. Bell
  • Todd C. Edwards


To examine associations between parental military service and school-based weapon carrying, school-based physical fighting and gang membership among youth. We used cross-sectional data from the 2008 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey collected in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades of public schools (n = 9,987). Parental military service was categorized as none (reference group), without combat zone deployment, or deployed to a combat zone. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test associations between parental military service and three outcomes: school-based weapon carrying, school-based physical fighting and gang membership. Standard errors were adjusted for the complex survey design. In 8th grade, parental deployment was associated with higher odds of reporting gang membership (OR = 1.8) among girls, and higher odds of physical fighting (OR = 1.6), and gang membership (OR = 1.9) among boys. In 10th/12th grade, parental deployment was associated with higher odds of reporting physical fighting (OR = 2.0) and gang membership (OR = 2.2) among girls, and physical fighting (OR = 2.0), carrying a weapon (OR = 2.3) among boys. Parental military deployment is associated with increased odds of reporting engagement in school-based physical fighting, school-based weapon carrying, and gang membership, particularly among older youth. Military, school, and public health professionals have a unique, collaborative opportunity to develop school- and community-based interventions to prevent violence-related behaviors among youth and, ultimately, improve the health and safety of youth in military families. Ideally, such programs would target families and youth before they enter eighth grade.


Adolescence Violence-related outcomes Military 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah C. Reed
    • 1
  • Janice F. Bell
    • 1
  • Todd C. Edwards
    • 2
  1. 1.Betty Irene Moore School of NursingUniversity of California, DavisSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Disability Policy and ResearchUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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