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The U.S School Shooting Statistics Everyone Should Know

As the school shooting epidemic becomes more of a danger in our country, are you aware of these important school shooting statistics?

Although some experts have argued there’s been too much focus on school shootings compared to other campus emergencies, that focus has resulted in a mass collection and analysis of school shooting statistics that provide valuable insights about the nature of the school shooting threat.

These efforts, taken by multiple organizations, have resulted in several valuable reports that provide a comprehensive if somewhat overwhelming— look at school shooting data of the past. School officials and first responders should familiarize themselves with these statistics even as they maintain an all-hazards approach to emergency planning.

By now nearly all schools have planned their response to school shootings: In 2016, the CDC found nearly 90 percent of public schools had a written plan for responding to school shootings, and 70 percent of those schools had drilled students on the plan.

This is for good reason: Shootings are among the most deadly types of emergencies a school may face, and one recent study even found that school shootings are increasing on college campuses.

Our goal by providing this in-depth look at school shooting statistics is for readers to understand this threat more completely so they can take a data-driven approach to emergency planning.

Putting School Shootings Into Context

First, let’s compare the prevalence of school shootings to school violence overall. Fortunately, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (or NCJJ) found the rate of violent crime in schools dropped significantly over a recent 18-year stretch ending in 2010:

school shooting statistics

Source: Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report.

Still, school violence remains a real problem: More than 750,000 incidents of violent crime took place in U.S. schools during the 2013-2014 school year, according to the government-sponsored report Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2015.

Fortunately, the chances a student will be killed at school are far lower than the chances they’ll experience school violence.

A 2004 Secret Service report dubbed the Safe Schools Initiative put the odds of a high school student getting into a fight at school at 1 in 7.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned 2015 report counted just 31 homicides of students aged 5-18 that occurred at school or while traveling to or from school between July of 2012 and June of 2013. That puts the likelihood a student will be killed at school at less than one in a million!

About the Author

Contact:

Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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30 responses to “The U.S School Shooting Statistics Everyone Should Know”

  1. Preston Esslinger says:

    Where did you get your sources

  2. Tony Parks says:

    Nowhere, do I see (I may have just missed it), that you included how many of the shooters were under the influence of either prescription medication, alcohol, illegal drugs, etc. The pharmaceutical industry alone has a very high percentage of our teens (and the general population) on a plethora of drugs for everything from ADD drugs to anti-depressants, and psychotic (mental health drugs), add to this the illegal drug addicts and you have a very serious epidemic. Don’t you think that the drug abuse and/or prescription drug industry effects on people’s mental state just might be important to investigate? I think you’re going to find that as high as 90% have a compromised mental state due to drug use of one kind or another. Or you might find that a specific drug or group of drugs contribute most. Everybody points the finger at gun control, but barley anybody looks at the drugged mental state connection. It might be wise to remember that it is the person and their mental state that pulls the trigger.

    • Brittany says:

      If a person is on meds for mental illness and they shoot up a school, then it’s because they stopped taking their medicine. Most of these kids have some sort of mental illness or are tried of the bullying OR become mentally ill BECAUSE of the bullying. I think that we need to address this as it is a bigger portion of the problem.

      • Keith says:

        No. Just no. Even starting SSRI medications can lead to immediate personality changes.

        My own father was put on a very low-dose anti-depressant 5 years ago. Within 3 days he was cutting at his skin with a knife “to get the ticks out”, and was telling me that “If the police come, don’t open the door, just give me to them.” This man, a brilliant engineer, had never broken a law in his life.

        Fortunately, he was living with me at the time, I recognized that the SSRI was making him psychotic, and I took it away from him. He recovered in a few days. But a month later he was living in his own apartment, and his pharmacy refilled the prescription even though I had ordered them not to after speaking with my father’s doctor. So after a frantic call from my mother, I had to go confiscate the SSRI (again) because he was harming himself to “get at the ticks”.

        Now, imagine a man or young boy who’s put on an SSRI, and the psychosis (too much serotonin in the brain) comes on more slowly. They seem upbeat, talkative, etc. “Cured”, right? But over time they get deeply paranoid, and start compulsively planning violence to control their anxiety. If not stopped, they will feel compelled to act out violently in some way. Most will be noticed by a vigilant parent or doctor at some point during this personality shift. But if they live alone, or are neglected by parents/friends, they’re very likely to wind up on the news after hurting themselves or others.

        Which is why most of these shooters are “loners”, “bullied”, etc. Nobody is paying any (positive) attention to them after putting them on mind-altering chemicals.

    • Keith says:

      These are exactly the questions that we need to start asking as a society. How often did a school shooting occur before SSRI anti-depressants were released into the market? What common drugs can interact with them to produce psychosis? How do we ensure that everyone taking these drugs is adequately monitored? Should people living alone or in neglectful households be given these drugs at all?

  3. Heather Taylor says:

    How about good old peer pressure, social media and the dynamics of a developing brain? Why are we not looking at that? Is it a mental health issue or just a teenage brain issue? I don’t see a lot of mass school shootings being done by 40-50 year old men. Check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QWoP6jJG3k&feature=share

  4. Keith,

    The first shooting occurring on a US campus took place on Thursday, April 9, 1891 and the last to date occurred on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

    Here is some data to consider relative to incidents during these periods:
    – Age of shooters both male and female: between 5-years of age and 70-years of age
    – Shootings at Public Schools: 1062
    – Shootings at Private Schools: 92
    – Type School Unknown: 33
    – Colleges: 217
    – High Schools: 649
    – Middle Schools: 154
    – Elementary Schools: 140
    – Number students, teachers, etc., Killed: 2,580
    – Number students, teachers, etc., wounded: 3,317

    The reason that determining the information on SSRI’s you are seeking is going to be nearly impossible to obtain is that offender medical information is confidential just as is there mental health history. However, medical committees or physicians that determine an individual is mentally defective/ill or are a threat to themselves or others are required to report this information. Unfortunately this information and information determined by a court , board, commission, or other lawful authority does not get entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    So unless the individual attempting to purchase a firearm through legal means answers question 11.f on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) Form 4473, honestly there would be know way the firearms dealer would know the individual was mentally defective/ill.

    11.f “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mentally defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution (See instructions for question 11.f.)”

    [Instructions for Question 11.f. Adjudicated as a Mental Defective: A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease: (1) is a danger to himself or to others; or (2) lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs. This term shall include: (1) a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case; and (2) those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility. Committed to a Mental Institution: A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily. The term includes commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution. EXCEPTION: Under the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution in a State proceeding is not prohibited by the adjudication or commitment if the person has been granted relief by the adjudicating/committing State pursuant to qualifying mental health relief from disabilities program. Also, a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution by a department or agency of Federal Government is not prohibited by the adjudication or commitment if either: (a) the person’s adjudication or commitment was set-aside or expunged by the adjudicating/committing agency; (b) the person has been fully released or discharged from all mandatory treatment, supervision, or monitoring by the agency; (c) the person was found by the agency to no longer suffer from the mental health condition that served as the basis of the initial adjudication/commitment or (d) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, is based solely on a medical finding of disability, without an opportunity for a hearing by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, and the person has not been adjudicated as a mental defective consistent with section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code; (e) the person was granted relief from the adjudicating/committing agency pursuant to a qualified mental health relief from disabilities program. Persons who fall within one of the above exceptions should answer “no” to question 11.f. This exception to an adjudication or commitment by a Federal department or agency does not apply to any person who was adjudicated to be not guilty by reason of insanity, or based on lack of mental responsibility, or found incompetent to stand trial, in any criminal case or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.]

    It should also be noted that to date all Federal Firearms License (FFL) sales are, by law required to be submitted via paper documentation only. There is no United States database that immediately updates and tracks the legal sale or purchase of firearms. Once the FFL paper work reaches the BATF it is immediately placed in storage until such time that a BATF analyst reach the documents during the normal course of their FFL paperwork duties. It is also important to note that owners of legal firearms have no legal obligation to have a criminal background check completed on an individual they contemplating selling a firearm(s) to.

    It is however, illegal to make a ‘Straw Purchase’ in the United States. A straw purchase is where an individual who is capable of legally purchasing a firearm from a legal firearms distributor goes to a legal firearms distributor and intentionally purchases a firearm(s) for another person who would not be able to legally purchase the firearm(s) from the legal firearms distributor themselves.

    The worlds number one resource available for data and data analysis relative to; school violence around the world, professional threat assessment relating to school violence, mass school violence/murder, pre, during, and post offender communications in incidents of school violence, as well as target hardening and school safety is Psychosocial Dynamics, LLC.

  5. Bunnie says:

    There’s a website related to this, it’s called ssristories.org and it’s pretty self explanatory. I also know from personal experience that ssri drugs do in fact change a persons perception of reality. You do things you wouldn’t normally do while on these prescriptions, like cheat, steal, and murder. Now that’s not normal either while taking them or abruptly stopping these drugs!

  6. keith says:

    one important and vital statistic i dont see on here…and that is; where they accessed these weapons, and how many weapon owners were charged for their weapons being so easily accessed by the kids. i believe that is where some if the responsibility lies, not the politicians or the nra. if youre gonna be responsible enough to own these weapons, then accept responsibility of the damage done by them. because if it had not been in your possession then it would not get in theirs,..legally or illegally.

  7. Zane Sterling says:

    As a Doctor in practice for 33 years i have watched this phenomenon and kept my own statistics. Almost without exception, every student involved in these shootings has been on or on/off these powerful mind-bending drugs. This is a good discussion and needs to be heard more often – why are so many young people given drugs that clearly alter their mind and their thought processes? I see these kids in court weeks or months after they have shot and killed people and they look so harmless and confused. They often don’t even comprehend what they did or how they did it.

    As far as guns being the problem, think again. Guns just happen to be the most convenient and most available weapons. If these kids can’t get guns they are creative and they will find other ways to cause harm and pain. Take guns away and we will have more stabbings, more assault by vehicles, more arson and many other terrible attacks. Take a long, hard look at the terrible effects these powerful drugs have on these young minds and you are on the right path.

    • Larry Lopata says:

      Hello Zane,

      I live in Newtown, CT and have a son that went to the sister elementary school of Sandy Hook. I would very much like to see your data on the medication of the kids committing these horrible acts. Or if you could point me to public data it would be appreciated. I find it frustrating that this aspect of the issue is being almost completely ignored because I feel strongly that it is a major factor in preventing future tragedies. Thank you in advance.

  8. Jeff says:

    Depending on the time of year and the location of the school in question, having a weapon on school property may or may not be a red flag. In rural locales its not uncommon for Seniors and possibly Juniors to have shotguns or rifles in their vehicles during hunting season to go hunting as soon as they are out of school for the day. Outside of hunting season its probably a safe assumption to make that it is a red flag. What I’m saying is that you need to know the kids hobbies to make that judgement.

  9. Mark says:

    In 2015 2,333 student age kids were killed in traffic accidents, 235,845 were injured. No march or protest about these unfortunate kids. Must not be as dead as the shooting victims I guess. Where is the protests against GM, Ford, Toyota and so forth? What about the American Auto Dealers Association? We need a march for justice!

  10. Rob Goldsmith says:

    I came to this page as a Google hit looking for some data on what percentage of all schools or public schools encounter shooting incidents. Can’t find that here.

  11. Ken Pruitt says:

    The problem with this article, and the problem with all such articles on the subject, is that many, miscellaneous studies, periods, angles, etc are being compared so that it looks like a “detailed” comparison of apples and oranges!

    Also lost, it seems, in such studies (and at a time when students are marching) is that the shooters are often school students with known emotional problems, or home trouble or having experienced bullying or feeling like an outcast thanks to the inconsiderate attitude of his FELLOW students!

  12. Dan says:

    I came to this website looking for stats on shootings on closed campuses vs. open campuses. I was also wondering about occurrences at “inner city” campuses where security measures, i.e. metal detectors, armed guards, are common place security practices. Has this type of information been compiled and where can it be accessed?

  13. Bill says:

    When you use Everytown for Gun Safety as a source you lose a great deal of credibility their criteria for a “school shooting” is umm very questionable, to say the least.

  14. […] you’ll be happy to know that the rate of school shootings has been dropping for decades, and today kids are about ten times more likely to be killed walking or bicycling to school than […]

  15. […] you’ll be happy to know that the rate of school shootings has been dropping for decades, and today kids are about ten times more likely to be killed walking or bicycling to school than […]

  16. Bunnies says:

    That is very helpful but you also realize that while the rate has gone down often the amount of kids that are killed per shooting almost making it even.

  17. C Jensen says:

    Some of the commenters need to reread the article as statements are made that certain info is not discussed when in fact that info is directly addressed. As far as it including a number of sources, that’s usually a sign the author took time to research. Normally, I would object to his using a source that advocates gun control, but he is transparent about that fact, and they are not his only source. Given the shortness of the article, he gives solid statistics with some common sense suggestions.

  18. Cathy says:

    I am done with just doing nothing about this. I marched in March for gun control. But after Santa Fe, I want to do more. Gun control should be pursued but WHAT is causing this aberrant behavior at such high rates? I want to see research on the SSRI drugs too. I want to see the connection. If that’s not the cause then why are there so many more violent shootings than w0 or 49 years go? What is causing this level of nicety in our kids??? I want to help. I’m compelled to do something!!

  19. Lyn says:

    Do you have any historic to present statistics on the specific local of each school shooting? I’m trying to define shootings that occurred in multiple classrooms or areas within a school VS. shootings that occurred in only one specific area or classroom of the school.

    thx.

  20. Jonathan Quimbly says:

    Your headline says “Shootings” but almost all your stats include all weapon types.

    So you didn’t answer your own question.

  21. […] another research study done on 37 lethal attacks conducted on […]

  22. Debbie Olson says:

    Does anyone know of any statistics on the racial makeup of the victims of school shootings?

  23. Lucinda says:

    This is sad

  24. […] Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., opened fire on the campus, making it the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012,” he […]

  25. Mariana Anaya says:

    What issue is this article from?

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