Introduction: What We Know and Why It Matters?
Between 2020 and 2022 there were a combined 670 firearm incidents in schools. This includes when a firearm was brandished or fired on school property and when bullets hit school property. This covers all days of the week, after-school/sporting events, and other violent situations.
Combine this with actual and estimated incidents in 2023, and we find that these four years witnessed almost the same number of incidents as all previous incidents from 2000 to 2019 combined. This clearly illustrates that a significant safety issue faces the children of our community.
In this article, we have discussed the root causes of school shootings and ways to prevent them.
Understanding the Root Causes: Why Do School Shootings Occur?
Mentioned below are some of the main reasons why school shootings occur:
1. Mental health issues and lack of support
According to the FBI’s research on active shooters, mental health is a primary stressor that leads to a violent confrontation, with 62% of incidents being tied to mental health. While these statistics cover all active shooters and not just school shootings, we have to recognize that mental health plays a significant role.
Discussing mental health has been a social taboo for a long time and only in recent years has it become acceptable to have conversations about mental wellness. Because of this social taboo, many people are not able to find the help they need. Combined with the relatively high expense of therapy, only a handful of individuals can have access to mental health professionals.
2. Bullying and Social isolation
Both physical and mental isolation, either from bullying or other social pressures such as social media, are considered to lead to primary stressors like depression and other mental health issues.
Bullying and societal slights can be the basis for a school shooter’s “grievance”. A grievance is the first step in the traditional pathway to violence according to researchers. Once it is conceived, it can move on to “ideation” or come to the conclusion that violence is a justified or necessary solution.
3. Access to firearms
The fourth stage of any active shooter development is the preparation stage. This usually involves acquiring a firearm, in some cases illegally. No sensible firearms owner wants their guns to be used in a school shooting. This means they should take extra care to limit the access unauthorized individuals have to their firearms.
Using safes and similar tools can help restrict access at home, but many times people are out and about concealed carrying at least one of their firearms. Accessories like the GOSAFE Mobile Mag provide an additional layer of protection while allowing you to access your firearms for defense. This is a great option for those who want to be sure their guns are secure wherever they go.
4. Impact of violent media
Violence in media is a touchy subject for many. There has been an increase in on-screen violence since the 1960s and multiple studies indicate watching violence in any form increases aggressive behavior. This is mostly related to things like movies, television, and video games that have been shown to lead to a higher likelihood of violence down the road.
Other studies indicate that things like video games and virtual reality may be a tool for violence prevention. Some findings indicate that the user’s normal morals affect how they play the game and many will often sympathize with victims of violence in the games they play.
Either way, violent media has a measurable impact on society. Parents should consider methods of moderating their children’s consumption of negative media.
School Safety: How to Prevent School Shootings
Here are some practices that can be followed to prevent school shootings:
Establish a Safe and Supportive School Environment
Teachers are the most likely individuals to whom students will report unusual behavior. With this in mind, schools should make the extra effort to create a safe environment where students are encouraged to interact with their teachers when there are any problems.
Combined with more accessible mental health facilities, this can help reduce potential stressors while improving the mental health of students which can improve the entire learning experience.
Enhance School Security Measures
Another valid solution to prevent school shootings is increasing school security. Preventing unauthorized firearms from getting into the campus can help protect those in the building while buying time for police to arrive.
This can be done with additional metal detectors, reinforcing doors, and other ways of controlling access to the building.
Active shooter drills and other emergency drills should be practiced by students and faculty to ensure everyone can safely evacuate or react to an active shooter.
Strengthen Community Involvement and Support
Research has shown that parents and teachers are the most likely adults to be told about potential signs of school shootings. This sharing of information was found to be more likely to occur if the children felt that their school was safe.
In order to maximize the likelihood of students sharing important information, parents and teachers should strive to build a community with them in addition to local law enforcement. Building trust within the community will lessen potential grievances and allow for better communication all around.
Better communication and mental health support will go a long way in preventing future shootings. While some may think these are too expensive in the short term, they will have long-term benefits in the form of stronger, safer communities.
Encourage Responsible Gun Ownership and Storage
The average gun owner is not to blame for school shootings. However, gun owners can take extra steps to educate themselves, their families, and their communities about responsible gun ownership. This includes gun safety and safe gun storage. Not everyone grew up dealing with firearms appropriately and understanding the importance of safe handling can make your community safer.
Doing Your Part to Lessen School Shootings
Protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities should always be a priority. However, preventing these situations is very difficult and requires a cooperative effort between the community and law enforcement. One way you can help mitigate a potential school shooting is by securing your firearms from unauthorized access. Help GOSAFE promote school security and the safety of our communities.
Does armed security prevent school shootings?
9.5% of all school-related firearm incidents end with either the School Resource Officer (SRO), Law Enforcement, or an outside actor subduing or killing the attacker. Of these, 1.9% of the incidents are resolved by an SRO. While this is a statistically small number, it is estimated that only 20% of all schools have an SRO to service them, with 42% of public schools stating they have an SRO at least one day a week (in 2015-2016). An increase in both SRO presence and armed security could mitigate school shootings.
What is the best solution to prevent school shootings?
The best way to prevent school shootings is to build stronger relationships with students while training them in problem-solving skills. Social isolation and a lack of skill in conflict resolution are often connected with individuals who perpetrate these kinds of incidents.
What are the warning signs for school attackers?
Reading the warning signs of a potential school attacker is never easy. Some of the warning signs for a school attacker are breakdowns of normal relationships, inappropriate aggression and threats, and an increase in risky behavior with unusual disregard for the consequences. Accessing potential attackers requires a good understanding of the individual to spot significant changes in behavior.
How can schools collaborate with local law enforcement agencies to enhance safety?
Schools can use the School Resource Officer Program of their local law enforcement agency. For more information on SRO programs look here or at your state/jurisdiction’s SRO Program site.