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.