California Schools Had 70% Decline in Reports of Guns

Published: April 14, 2023

Despite the recent rise in school gun incidents and active shooter events in the U.S., a new University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) study has found that California schools have experienced a big drop in violence since 2001.

From 2001 to 2019, California schools saw a massive reduction in all types of victimizations, including physical threats with or without weapons, verbal and psychological abuse, and property offenses.

Specifically, the study found there were 70% fewer reports of someone carrying a gun onto school grounds and a 68% reduction in bringing other weapons to school, such as a knife. Additionally, in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 56% fewer physical fights and a 59% reduction in reports of being threatened by a weapon on school grounds. Black and Latino students experienced larger declines compared to White students.

“Each school shooting is a devastating act that terrorizes the nation, and there is a growing sense in the public that little has changed in two decades to make schools safe,” said UCLA scholar Ron Avi Astor, who is co-author of the study. “But mass shootings are just one part of this story. Overall, on a day-to-day basis for most students, American schools are safer than they’ve been for many decades.”

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According to Astor, the findings from his study applied to 95% of California schools, in every county and not just in wealthy suburban campuses.

The UCLA researchers spent more than three years studying data from the California Healthy Kids survey that is given every year in 95% of the state’s middle schools and high schools, reports KTVU. More than six million students participated in that survey.

The researchers acknowledged, however, that the data they examined was from before the pandemic and that the COVID-19 shut-down may have triggered mental health issues and violence.

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