School Shootings




I started writing Creating Safe Schools in 2014, the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school had already taken place. But the school shooting in Parkland Florida had not.  According to Time Magazine, (February 22, 2018) there have been 17 school shootings in 2018 and 290 since Sandy Hook. In 2014, teachers weren’t being trained and armed with guns. Children weren’t having to deal with active school shooting training. Imagine the trauma of a 5 or 6-year-old having to seek shelter in order to prevent their being shot in a place where they have come to learn and be safe. Parents didn’t have to deal with the daily fears that their children would not be coming home from school.

Most school buildings were built in safer era. I have worked in two high schools where students were shot. In one high-performing high school, a student was shot and killed in order to steal his leather jacket. In another school, a student was shot and paralyzed by an intruder even though there was a metal detector at the front door. Schools weren’t built or designed with safety in mind. They have too many entrances and unmanned exits. It is possible in many schools, for intruders to walk up a flight of concealed stairs without every entering the building proper.

CNN has released a report after reviewing hundreds of reported shootings at K-12 schools from 2009-2018. And while there isn’t single definition of what qualifies as a school shooting, CNN defined a school shooting as involving at least one person being shot and the shooting occurred on school property. According to the report, “since 2009 there have been at least 177 schools which have experienced shootings with 356 victims…. School shootings are increasing, and no type of community is immune.” They have occurred in urban environments, suburban communities, eight have occurred in private schools, or rural locations and even on a Native American reservation.

The report also cites the following data:

  • Shootings at predominately white schools have an average of 3 casualties. Twice the number of shooting victims than at predominately black and Hispanic students.
  • School shooting have occurred in 46 states (not in Hawaii, New Hampshire, or North Dakota)
  • More shootings happen on Fridays and during the afternoon.
  • Nearly 200,000 students attended schools where shootings have taken place.
  • Shootings at mostly white schools have more casualties
  • While black students make up about 15% of all students, they account for about 1/3 of all students who experienced a school shooting since 2009.
  • Shootings at suburban schools tend to have more casualties.
  • Shootings in rural areas tend to happen at white-majority schools.
  • Shootings in urban areas have killed 114 people and injured 242.
  • In 2009, there were 5 killed and 14 injured. In 2018, there were 37 killed and 68 injured.
  • Some incidents are caused by events taking place in the school – bullying, poor grades, relationship-breakups, denial of graduation.
  • Others have nothing to do with school – depression, family illness or death, dissolving of the family,
  • Students may feel isolated and have not been taught problem-solving or conflict resolution skills.
  • The number of shootings and deaths have increased every year.
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida had a superior reputation as an A-rated school in an affluent, tranquil community will now be listed in books as the scene of a tragic school shooting.

Public schools have been tasked with the responsibility of educating ALL children. But according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “was searched every morning for weapons.” No weapons were ever found on him during the searches.” But the school found  out he drank bleach and tried to hurt himself. one year after being thrown out of school, , he walked into the school and fatally shot 14 students and three educators with an assault-style weapon. He is facing the death penalty. The school obviously recognized the extreme danger the gun-obsessed, mentally disturbed young man posed.

What can schools do to protect students? Guns in school is not a school problem. It is a societal problem. School shootings need to be prevented not merely mourned. Children cannot be sent into buildings where they, their parents and the community believe they are unsafe.


School Shootings, Mass violence in Dayton, Ohio & El Paso, Texas – America is better than this!

More information can be found in my book, Creating Safe Schools: A Guide for School Leaders. which is sold on Amazon.