THE INCIDENCE AND BELIEFS OF YOUNG PEOPLE CARRYING KNIVES AND DANGEROUS IMPLEMENTS IN PUBLIC PLACES
 
Brown, J., Macquarie University, Sutton, J., University of Western Sydney, Australia
 
This study surveyed 175 male adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 to ascertain their knowledge of knife and dangerous implement carrying in the community. Subjects were drawn from a number of schools in metropolitan Sydney, ranging low to middle class suburbs. These data were very difficult to obtain due to the sensitive nature of the survey and principals', parents' and adolescents' reluctance to be involved with the project. Almost half (46%) of the adolescents knew others who carried knives and dangerous implements and almost one quarter (22%) admitted carrying these implements themselves. Of those carrying implements, 26 % got them from home while another 19% bought them. Data for reasons why knives were carried were factor analysed resulting in three factors named 'Bolstering' ( to feel tough, confident and powerful), 'Threat' (to feel safe) and 'Social' (to comply with other's behaviour and for excitement). Subject's anxiety tended to be lower when knife carrying was associated with Bolstering and Threat but was not related to Social reasons. Reasons why respondents did not carry knives were also factor analysed. The results yielded the three factors of 'Safety' (the community is perceived to be a safe place), 'Fear' (fear of greater problems emerging with the police or others in the community) and 'Values' (beliefs from upbringing). The results are discussed in terms of the implications for education programs for young people in schools.