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Adolescent Males Who Carry Guns Were More Likely to Have Disengaged Parents During Childhood


A Pittsburgh-based study found that boys whose parents were less involved, engaged and communicative with them during childhood were significantly more likely to carry a gun during their teen years. The study, “Parental Disengagement in Childhood and Adolescent Male Gun Carrying,” published in the April 2019 Pediatrics (published March 4 online), followed 503 boys initially recruited from 1st-grade classrooms. Researchers conducted semiannual and annual assessments of the boys from the time they were approximately 7.5 years old until age 20, through interviews with the boys, their parents and their teachers.  About 100 teens – or 20 percent of the participants - reported carrying a gun during the study period. Researchers found that boys with higher parental disengagement were more likely to affiliate with delinquent peers and display aggression, bullying or other external problems during adolescence. Both factors, in turn, increased the likelihood that the teen would carry a gun during later teen years. The authors conclude that interventions to improve the parent-son relationship during childhood could help prevent teens from carrying guns. The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds