The Challenges of Stemming School Violence

In the age of lockdowns, threats of violence, and mass shootings, parents’ primary concern about schools has shifted from ensuring children get a thorough and efficient education to focusing on safety.

Nationally, there were 1,576 incidents of students bringing firearms to a public school in 2015; up from 1,463 the previous year. California leads the nation with 118 incidents, followed by 107 in Georgia, 112 in Missouri, 98 in Texas, 83 in Ohio, 82 in Louisiana, 76 in Florida, and 75 in Tennessee. In the Northeast, there were 2 in New Jersey, 42 in New York, 24 in Pennsylvania, and 25 in Virginia. The data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics’ report on “Crime, Violence, Discipline & Safety in U.S. Public Schools (2015-2016),” the most current analysis.

Although statistically, one could more likely be struck by lightning than caught in the crosshairs of a situation that escalates into a mass shooting, a national conversation about addressing school safety is considered needed.

This is underscored by the federal data showing how educators are limited in addressing discipline issues that can spiral into violence. Among the top factors reported to limit schools’ efforts to reduce or prevent crime “in a major way,” 30 percent listed a lack of, or inadequate, alternative placements or programs for disruptive students; 28 percent listed inadequate funds; and 17 percent listed federal, state or district policies on disciplining special education students, according to the report.