Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 788–801 | Cite as

Girls and Weapons: An International Study of the Perpetration of Violence

  • Patricia G. EricksonEmail author
  • Jennifer E. Butters
  • Marie-Marthe Cousineau
  • Lana Harrison
  • Dirk Korf
  • Drugs, Alcohol and Violence International (DAVI) team


The purpose of this study was to describe delinquent girls' weapons preferences where and how often they carried weapons and to identify the most important factors that explained four different weapon-related violent outcomes. A large, high-risk sample of female adolescents consisting of 510 girls aged 14–17 in four cities were interviewed using the same questionnaire and methods. Tabular and logistic regression analyses were applied. Knives emerged as the most frequently reported weapon in all cities. Rates of both lifetime victimization and perpetration of violence with weapons were high in all sites. Starting to carry a weapon as a result of violence was reported by 40% of the girls in Toronto, 28% in Philadelphia, 25% in Amsterdam, and 16% in Montreal. The major predictors of weapon perpetrated violent behaviours included ethnic origin, early onset of delinquent activities, participation in delinquent acts in the past 12 months, gang fighting and carrying a weapon as a result of violence. Site, age and heavy alcohol consumption had a minor impact, and drug use, drug selling, and neighborhood features, none. Despite numerous differences in weapons' prevalence across cities, the logistic regression found that site was only significant in use of an object (Toronto) and not significant in threatening or hurting someone with either a knife or a gun or actually hurting others with a weapon. These findings suggest commonality in serious female violence that extends beyond borders and cultures.


Adolescent violent behaviour Delinquency Perpetration of violence Victimization Weapon carrying 



Other members of the DAVI team include Edward Adlaf, Annemieke Benschop, Serge Brochu, Charles Freeman, Deborah Harrington, George Rots, Rosalyn Sutherland, and Fu Sun. The authors also thank Paul Goldstein for his useful advice as a consultant on DAVI.

The DAVI team gratefully acknowledges the support of our funding agencies, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant #RO1-DA11691-01A1) for the Toronto and Philadelphia sites; NWO/ ZonMw, through a bi-national agreement with the Netherlands, for Amsterdam (grant #3100.0037); and the Centre National de Prevention du Crime (grant #3150-U4), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant #410-2002-1154), for Montreal, Quebec.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia G. Erickson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer E. Butters
  • Marie-Marthe Cousineau
  • Lana Harrison
  • Dirk Korf
  • Drugs, Alcohol and Violence International (DAVI) team
  1. 1.Social, Prevention and Policy Research DepartmentCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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