New report sheds light on weapons-carrying among youth

Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) has released the report, “Perspectives on

Weapons-Carrying Among Ottawa Youth Ages 14-21.”  CPO commissioned the research in 2019 as part of the Ottawa Street Violence and Gang Strategy.  

More than 50 youth and 16 adults participated in focus groups and interviews prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report reveals what kinds of weapons youth carry, where and why, as well as potential solutions.

Knives are most popular among youth

Participants identified knives as the weapon of choice, mostly because they are inexpensive and easily accessed. Youth reported that guns are not easy to access. Other weapons include brass knuckles, tasers, and improvised weapons such as screwdrivers and metal water bottles.

Self-expression outweighs self-defence as a motivator

Self-defence is one reason that youth (particularly girls) may carry weapons. But most participants said that the primary reason was to express and empower themselves, especially among peers and on social media.

Potential solutions to weapons-carrying

The youth involved in the research recommended solutions to address the problem, including:

  • Peer mentorship
  • Community policing
  • Social services
  • Support of educators
  • Ethnic and religious community support
  • Support for parents and families

More about the research

The research was conducted in summer and fall 2019 in Ottawa by the Research and Education Department of Muslim Family Services of Ottawa (MFSO), in partnership with Regroupement ethnoculturel des parents francophones d’Ontario (REPFO).

The report is available to download.

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