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Protecting America's Schools:

A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence

A new analysis released by the U.S. Secret Service found that most school shooters showed warning signs and that the tragedies could have been prevented. The study is based on 41 incidents of "targeted school violence" that took place in American schools from 2008 to 2017.

Project Appleseed

A new November 2019 analysis released by the U.S. Secret Service on found that most school shooters showed warning signs and that the tragedies could have been prevented. The study is based on 41 incidents of "targeted school violence" that took place in American schools from 2008 to 2017.

The report, from the Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center, was created to help school officials and law enforcement officers prevent tragedies in schools across the country. 

Many of the attackers were victims of bullying, had a history with law enforcement and "communicated their intentions" to carry out an attack. "In many cases, someone observed a threatening communication or behavior but did not act, either out of fear, not believing the attacker, misjudging the immediacy or location, or believing they had dissuaded the attacker," the study says. 

There is no set profile of a student attacker or a profile for what kind of school gets targeted, the study said. Instead, attackers usually had multiple motives. That can include a grievance with classmates, issues with romantic relationships or a desire to commit suicide.


While some attackers experienced behavioral or developmental issues, all experienced a stressor in the days or months leading up to the attack. For example, one 14-year-old student who shot a classmate had been punched and called names. But that attacker also had a history of bullying others.

Thursday's report finds most of the schools had some sort of security measure, like lockdown procedures or security cameras. Yet only 17% of the schools had a system in place for students to notify an official if they notice a peer in crisis. 

Some of the behaviors students and staff should be aware of includes increased anger, an interest in weapons and violence, depression or isolation, self-harm or a sudden change in behavior. The majority of attackers even shared their intentions with someone else, either in person or online.

Source: CBS News

I study the kind of aggressive childhood behavior that often predates school shootings. That research suggests what communities and families can start doing today to better protect children. Here are 10 actions we can all take while the federal government drags its heels.

Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives. But something is changing. More than 1.5 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.Everytown starts with you, and it starts in your town.

OUR APPROACH: Build a national movement of parents, schools and community organizations engaged and empowered to deliver gun violence prevention programs and mobilize for the passage of sensible state and national policy. 

Violence such as the high profile school shootings can cause concern within school communities, even if they are not directly affected by the event(s). Adults and students struggle to understand why these events happen and, more importantly, how they can be prevented. School principals and superintendents can provide leadership in reassuring students, staff, and parents that schools are generally very safe places for children and youth and reiterating what safety measures and student supports are already in place in their school.

In the United States, an estimated 50 million students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Another 15 million students attend colleges and universities across the country. While U.S. schools remain relatively safe, any amount of violence is unacceptable. Parents, teachers, and administrators expect schools to be safe havens of learning. Acts of violence can disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school itself, and the broader community.

Given the National PTA’s history of advocacy for the safety of children and youth, Project Appleseed supports the National PTA and federal efforts to protect children and youth from gun violence. National PTA also advocates restricting access to guns from persons who may endanger public safety. School safety is a critical priority for all parents, educators, students, and community members that cannot be taken for granted. We must make every attempt to reduce violence, especially incidents that involve firearms. National PTA recognizes the importance of parent involvement in the decision-making process in the development and implementation of school safety policies, including crisis response plans.

The rate of mass shootings in the United States has tripled since 2011, according to a new analysis by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Northeastern University. In the last three years, there have been 14 mass shootings—defined as public attacks in which the shooter and victims were generally unknown to each other and four or more people were killed—occurring on average every 64 days. During the previous 29 years, mass shootings occurred on average every 200 days.

"Parents feel their children are safer at school than at play in their own neighborhood, but recent acts of school violence have ignited debate over school safety. I’m encouraged that the strongest sentiments oppose arming teachers and principals and that, given a choice, more respondents prefer mental health services over armed guards,"  Doris Terry Williams, executive director of The Rural School and Community Trust, 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

School shootings are rarely impulsive acts. Rather, they are typically thought out and planned out in advance. In addition, prior to most shootings other kids knew the shooting was to occur - but did not alert an adult. Very few of the attackers, however, ever directed threats to their targets before the attack. The study findings also revealed that there is no "profile" of a school shooter; instead, the students who carried out the attacks differed from one another in numerous ways.

Ten Strategies To Prevent Bullying In School

According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Center, one out of three students has either been the victim of bullying or acted as a bully, and each day 160,000 children miss school due to a fear of being bullied. Nationally, over five million students are affected by bullying while in school – something that has been shown to harm self-esteem, stall learning, and even lead to serious physical and emotional harm.

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