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Protecting America's Schools:

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

A 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

Project Appleseed supports the efforts to protect children and youth from gun violence. We believe that creating a safe learning environment is crucial for students to reach their full potential. Our program advocates for school safety policies that are developed and implemented through a collaborative process involving all stakeholders, including parents, educators, students, and community members.

We believe that the most effective way to maintain a safe school climate is by creating gun-free zones, but we also recognize the importance of law enforcement presence in our schools.


We support the following measures to improve youth safety and ensure responsible gun ownership:

  • Encouraging the use of gun safety locks and other safety devices to prevent accidental discharge by young children

  • Providing alternative educational settings for students who have brought firearms to school, along with appropriate evaluation and counseling

  • Regulating internet gun sales, including kits for making or modifying guns

  • Enforcing minimum age requirements for handgun purchases and raising the age limit to 21 for non-licensed dealers

  • Requiring background checks and proper paperwork for non-licensed dealers

  • Increasing penalties for transferring firearms to juveniles for criminal use

  • Revoking the license of dealers who knowingly sell to minors

  • Establishing education programs on gun safety and violence prevention for students, parents, and community members

  • Preventing juveniles who have committed violent crimes from buying guns as adults

A 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

Preventing gun violence is an important issue that affects communities and schools at all levels. Here are some resources for parents, teachers, and students to learn about and prevent gun violence:

  1. Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ( - a leading organization working to prevent gun violence and promote gun control. They offer a variety of resources, including educational materials for schools, information on gun laws, and ways to get involved in advocacy efforts.

  2. Everytown for Gun Safety ( - a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. They offer a range of resources for parents, teachers, and students, including information on gun violence prevention, educational materials, and ways to get involved in advocacy efforts.

  3. The National Rifle Association ( - offers a variety of programs and resources related to firearms safety, including training and education programs for schools and families.

  4. Sandy Hook Promise ( - a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent gun violence before it happens by providing educational programs and resources to schools, families, and communities.

  5. National School Safety Center ( - provides information, resources, and training on school safety, including preventing gun violence.

It's important to note that these resources offer different perspectives on gun violence and gun control, and it's up to individuals to research and decide for themselves what approaches and policies they support.