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8.26.22 – Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif.

It’s been three months since the shooting at an elementary school inĀ Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed. With schools back in session, we look at some national statistics on protecting students.

What safety and security measures are used in America’s public schools?

Schools use a variety of practices and procedures to promote the safety of students, faculty, and staff. The National Center for Education Statistics survey on crime and safety collects data on school safety and security practices by asking public school principals about their school’s use of safety and security measures, as well as whether their school had written procedures for responding to selected scenarios and whether it had emergency drills for students.

The survey also asked schools about the presence of security staff and the availability of training for classroom teachers or aides on school safety and discipline provided by the school or school district.

Guns and mass attacks

According to the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, researchers identified 34 occurrences in which three or more persons, not including the perpetrator, were harmed during a targeted attack in a public or semi-public space in the U.S. between January and December 2019. Three of these attacks were perpetrated by pairs of attackers.

In total, 108 people were killed and an additional 178 people were injured.

Type of locations impacted

Business: 44%

Educational institutions (including a high school, a K-12 public charter school and a university): 9%

Houses of worship: 6%

Military bases: 6%

Residential complexes: 6%

Bus: 3%

Nonprofit sandyhookpromise.org, which was founded and is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, has compiled child-related gun violence and school shooting facts.

Firearms used in about 68% of gun-related incidents at schools were taken from the home, a friend or a relative.

In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it.

In a comprehensive school shooting study, the Secret Service and Department of Education found that 93% of school shooters planned the attack in advance.

School shootings have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, and by some accounts, have even increased. However, U.S. Department of Homeland Security research shows that if we know the signs of gun violence, we can prevent it and reverse the trend.

Since the historic attack at Columbine High School in 1999, nearly 300,000 students have been on campus during a school shooting.

Almost all mass school shooters shared threatening or concerning messages or images. More than 75% raised concern from others prior to the attacks. Bystanders saw warning signs in most documented active shooter cases. 93% of school shooters planned the attack in advance.

A few warning signs of violence

1. Suddenly withdrawing from friends, family and activities (including online or via social media).

2. Bullying, especially if targeted toward differences in race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

3. Excessive irritability, lack of patience, or becoming angry quickly.

4. Experiencing chronic loneliness or social isolation.

5. Expressing persistent thoughts of harming themselves or someone else.

6. Making direct threats toward a place, another person, or themselves.

7. Bragging about access to guns or weapons.

8. Recruiting accomplices or audiences for an attack.

9. Directly expressing a threat as a plan.

Source: sandyhookpromise.org

NOTE: This isn’t a complete list of all warning signs. Exhibiting one of these signs doesn’t necessarily indicate imminent violence. When concerned about troubling behaviors, tell a trusted adult or call 911 if there is an immediate threat.

Sources: U.S. Secret Service, National Center for Education Statistics, sandyhookpromise.org, New England Journal of Medicine

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