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The Bleak Picture: What Stats Say about Gun Violence in U.S. Schools

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The Grim Reality Of Gun Violence In the U.S. Schools

The sound of incessant gunshots and the horrid visuals of a gun-toting man will forever be etched in the memories of the students, teachers and the survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In fact, such visuals have turned out to be rather prevalent if statistics are to be believed.

The recent school shooting massacre that took place on February 14, 2018, at Parkland, Florida, only points towards an irony. It is the second amendment to the United States Constitution that protects the rights of people to keep firearms. The law that’s supposed to uphold the people’s has now turned out to be a direct threat to their safety.

Also read, Top Challenges Faced by Students while Writing Assignments.

In the last two decades, gun violence and shootings in schools in the United States has become the burning topic of discussion across various media organizations. It even found mentions in the electoral debates as well. In 2018 alone, several instances of gun violence have been recorded in the schools of:

  • Los Angeles
  • New Orleans
  • Kentucky
  • Arizona
  • Texas

A rundown on the extent of Gun Violence and School Shootings through the years in the USA:

Such is the extent of gun violence in the USA that there have been at least 17 incidents of a school shooting in the last three months. And the number is almost twice than what it was on 2017 at this time of the year. What’s more, the statistics on gun violence is only turning out to be murkier by the day. Incidentally, presented below is a graphical illustration that records the rampant incidents over the course of last five years.

 

School Shootings by Year

Some activists have also argued the prevalence of gun violence had been quite rampant during the 90s as well. The statistics recorded by Everytown for Gun Safety also points towards a grim picture. The non-profit organization suggests that since July 1992- June 1999 there have been at least 123 incidents of gun-controlled homicides.

The Gun Violence across various levels of schools:

If we look at the data documented within the Wikipedia, there have been approximately 130 instances of gun-controlled violence that went down on the elementary schools, middle and high schools, and around 58 instances have been on college or university campuses. Let’s look at the following statistic that focuses on the various levels of schools that were affected by the gun violence.

 

Shootings tolls since 2000, by type of school

 

At elementary and middle schools, The gun violence claimed at least 60 lives, and left close to 60 people fatally wounded and barely holding on to their lives. At high schools, which also include the initial details from the Parkland shooting, there have been approximately 70 people killed, while 200 people were severely injured.

The deaths that were recorded in the elementary schools are, of course, spearheaded by Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, in 2012. But since January 1, 2000, other instances of shootings at elementary schools have also been reported.

 

Some stats about the school shootings

Statistics on the Perpetrators:

As mentioned earlier, the time frame between July 1992- June 1999 saw the sharp surge of gun violence in school or college campuses. Out of the 123 school shootings, as documented by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), the stats on the perpetrators are as follows.

  • Five students used two firearms each
  • 8% of the shooters ultimately committed suicide
  • 5% of the shooters were male

 

Shool Shooters by age

 

Every town for Gun Safety has documented nearly 254 school shootings in the United States since 2013, identifying school shootings as public reports where a gun was fired inside the school premises or on the playgrounds.

Of the first 160 incidents (recorded till 2015) the following statistics can be derived:

  • 84 incidents took place at K-12 schools
  • There were 76 instances from universities and colleges
  • In a majority of these instances, the shooters intentionally wounded or killed at least one other person with a gun (an act that’s termed as targeted violence)
  • At least one in six shootings went down after a spat or a verbal altercation
  • 12 shootings were most probably unintentional
  • 33 of the shootings that went down on the school grounds where no one was reportedly hurt.

 

The Following statistics can be derived from the first 160 incidents

Some useful statistics

The researchers from the Department of Education pointed out at least 37 incidents of “targeted school violence” between 1974 and 2000. These researchers categorized the targeted school violence as “(a) a present or recent former student who attacked someone with a harmful weapon (possibly a gun or knife); and, (b) Where the perpetrators purposefully chose his/her school as the location of the attack.”

The data, however, doesn’t emphasize on any useful “profile” of the perpetrators of the gun violence in schools, and only points out that the shooters differ considerably in the background, demographic, and other attributes. Still, the data shed light on several noteworthy aspects. Mentioned below are some of the stats concerned with the school shootings:

  • 78% of shooters had attempted to commit suicide or have had suicidal tendencies before they went on a rampage
  • 98% of the shooters had encountered some loss which affected them greatly and prompted them to mass destruction.
  • 71% felt bullied, cornered, threatened, or injured by others before the incident (in some of the instances that harassment was touted as prolonged and traumatizing)
  • More than half (59%) of such violence took place during the school time
  • Most perpetrators carried a gun as their main weapon, with 61% carrying handguns and 49% carrying rifles or shotguns.
  • In a staggering 73% of the incidents, the shooters had been reported to have some vendetta against at least one of their targets.
  • In nearly 81% of the gun-violence incidents in schools, the perpetrator himself has carried out the incident.

Here’s the illustration representing the students who’ve carried some form of weapon on the school or college premises.

 

students who’ve carried some form of weapon on the school

 

Figure 5; Number of students with accessibility to guns without adult supervision, Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics

While this set of details focuses on the shooters and circumstances, what’s also worth noting here is a psychological impact that guided them towards violence.

The Factors that contribute to the adverse reactions from the Perpetrators:

As The Los Angeles Times has pointed out that after the Oregon shooting massacre took place in June 2014, gun violence is part of a much larger concern. In fact, researchers and social activists have also pointed out how the growing intolerance or repressed emotions may have led the people, specifically the youngsters to take up firearms.

Researchers believe that the underlying concern that plagues most of the perpetrators of school shootings arises due to the suppression of their innermost feelings, and a “Culture of Silence” promoted by the schools.

Some researchers opine that be it racial discrimination or a case of bullying, no matter what the triggers are, the perpetrators have always resorted to hate crime to establish their stance. Then there are some researchers, who have pointed out to certain narcissistic traits or the inclination towards infamy or notoriety that may have been a contributing factor that drove the students to carry firearms or weapons in the school premises. Researchers also believe that the negligence of the parents when it comes to the accessibility to the deadly weapons is also to be blamed.

All these factors subtly indicate the roles of parents and teachers are crucial to detecting the behavioral patterns of the attackers. And this calls for a more active role on their part to address the issues that may lead a student to think of drastic measures. The statistics presented can be used by officials to deal with this ongoing issue by adopting appropriate measures.

So the mass protests and the movements like March For Our Lives are gaining momentum to bring about more stringent gun safety laws and to present a safer environment for students to co-exist. The pertinent question that still needs an answer is, will the federal administration bring about changes to the second amendment? Only time will tell.

Check out, 5 Side Hustles to Pay Off Your Student Debt.

References:

School Violence: Data and Statistics, gathered from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html

Bump, P. (2018, February 14). Eighteen years of gun violence in U.S. schools mapped. Gathered from https://www.washingtonpost.com/

L.A. Times staff reporters (2018, March 21). Are you joining the March for Our Lives? The L.A. Times wants to hear from you. Gathered from http://www.latimes.com/

Indicators of School Crime and Safety. (2017, May 16). Collected from https://nces.ed.gov/

Winn, Z. (2017, December 06). The U.S. School Shooting Statistics Everyone Should Know. Gathered from https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/

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By avalee

Ava Lee is a middle school teacher in the UK and a professional academic blogger in her free time. Sharing her teaching ...more

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