A study presented on May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting concluded that victims of bullying have brought an estimated 200,000 firearms and knives onto school campuses nationwide. The study’s conclusion was based on data collected and analyzed from more than 15,000 high schools across the country.

The researchers utilized data from the CDC’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which asked respondents if they had been bullied on school property during the past year and if they had carried a weapon onto school grounds.

“Victims of bullying who have been threatened, engaged in a fight, injured, or had property stolen or damaged are much more likely to carry a gun or knife to school,” said senior investigator Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Centre of New York. Researchers found that youth who have been victimized in multiple ways are up to 31 times more likely to carry a weapon to school than those students who have not been bullied.

The study results showed that twenty percent of high school students reported being victims of bullying. These students were almost twice as likely to carry a weapon to school than students who were not bullied. The study found that if a student had multiple risk factors, the likelihood of them bringing a weapon onto school property dramatically increased.

According to principal investigator, Dr. Lana Schapiro, “the greatest focus should not just be on bullies, but on the victims of bullies most likely to carry a weapon and potentially use deadly force if threatened.” Given the results of this study, when investigating bullying complaints, school districts should be focusing on both the victim and the student who did the bullying, with particular attention paid to the students in the days and weeks that follow the bullying event.