Bullies and Those Bullied More Likely to Carry Weapons

Bullets and Crayons at schoolParents and educators point to anecdotal evidence that bullying may contribute to school shootings and other forms of extreme violence. School violence is relatively uncommon, however, which makes it challenging to test these claims. A new study which aims to evaluate the connection between bullying and more severe violence has found that both bullies and those who have been bullied are more likely to carry weapons.

Bullies, Victims, and Weapons

The study evaluated data from previous research by pulling data from 45 previous studies, evaluating a total of 692,000 people aged 11 to 21. Researchers found that children who bully others and children who are bullied are more likely to carry weapons such as guns and knives than other children. Interestingly, children who were both bullies and victims of bulling were more likely to carry weapons than any other group. Previous research of school shooters supports this study’s claim, finding that shooters tend to be both victims and bullies. One Secret Service study found that 71% of school shooters had been bullied.

A Culture of Bullying

Schools are increasingly implementing anti-bullying programs, and public concern about cyberbullying has brought bullying to the fore of the public consciousness. Despite this increased attention, bullying remains a problem. According to 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly one in three children are bullied each school year. If bullying really does increase the likelihood of carrying a weapon, bullying is a serious public health crisis, and even children who play no role in bullying are endangered by its presence in their schools.

Although the study points to the importance of identifying and helping both bullies and their victims, it does not prove that being either a victim or a bully necessarily means an individual child is more likely to carry a weapon. The overwhelming majority of children who are bullied don’t carry weapons. Even among children who do carry weapons, most don’t injure or threaten another person.


  1. Bullying statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pacer.org/bullying/about/media-kit/stats.asp
  2. Cullen, D. (2012, April 28). Mean kids. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/the-bully-society-by-jessie-klein.html?_r=0
  3. Teen bullies, victims armed more than other kids, study says. (2014, June 9). Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/06/09/teen-bullies-victims-armed-more-than-other-kids-study-says

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  • Cora


    June 17th, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    When I read things like this it makes me so yearn for simpler times, when no one would even think of taking a gun to school and hurting others to kill them. I remember being in school and never once did I fear that someone was going to open fire on any of us while there. Of course we gossiped and talked about people and then they would talk about us, but we never even thought of retaliating the way that kids are today. What is it about our culture which has made this prevalent and so common, and even something that some have no second thoughts at all about doing? It seems unreal every time there is another story like this, so disturbing, makes you want to put your kids in a dome where they can’t get hurt but I know that isn’t realistic.

  • ella


    June 18th, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    It does seem like more and more it is the kids who have been bullied or feel like they have been the target of others’ ignorance who are the ones doing the killing.

    Most of the time the bullies are all talk, no action. Tjose who have been bullied though often feel that there is no other way to protect themselves from the abuse than by securing a weapon and then sadly using it against others.

  • Carol G.

    Carol G.

    June 18th, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I hope that this does not sound too pessimistic but I am very dismayed at the direction that our society is headed. Not to get political, but I feel like we have no real leadership in this country and we have no one to look to to give us hope for the future and the next generation to come. That is something that we used to have, the light at the end of the tunnel, and I just don’t think that we have that anymore. Everyone seems to be slowly going downward and it is hard to hope for the future when we have so many cases of bullying and people all acrioss the board to be made to feel by others that they are just not worth the trouble. I often wonder where this is going to get us and if there is anything that can be done to give any of us a more positive outlook once again. I used to think about that bright and shining future for myself and kids and grandkids but all of that seems to be going away.

  • zach


    June 19th, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    it may not prove that it makes carrying a weapon more likely but I did not read anything that says to me that it disproves it either

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