More than half of school violence incidents happened in just 10 states. Here's why they may have made the list
More than half of the 3,654 violent incidents and threats in schools last year happened in just 10 states, according to a report by the Educator’s School Safety Network, an education-based nonprofit that focuses on promoting safety in schools.
The report classified these states as the top 10 “states of concern.” In order, they are: California, Florida, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia.
The frequency of these events also raised eyebrows. Threats made up 3,375 of the incidents -- a 62% increase from the 2016-2017 school year, the report notes. Violent incidents more than doubled during the same time period, reaching a total of 279.
The top 10 states of concern are spread out across the country. They have different gun control policies and school security measures. But there are a few things that they have in common, Amy Klinger, the network’s programs director, told USA TODAY.
Their populations may have something to do with it. Every state on the list, except Virginia, was one of the 10 most highly populated states in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of these larger states also have more school districts to stay on top of -- California, which faced 265 threats and 21 violent incidents, has more than 1,000 districts alone, according to the state Department of Education.
With more school districts comes more difficulty in coordinating, Klinger said, and less funding for teacher trainings. Other outside factors, like access to guns, can also shape the amount of threats or violence in a state’s schools, University of California Los Angeles law professor Adam Winkler told USA TODAY.
This year is among the worst on record in school shootings, and educators are taking more extensive measures to prevent more from happening in the future. Starting this fall, some will track everything a student writes on a school computer, Quartz reports. Some middle schools and high schools have banned backpacks after the February massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida. That very school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, started classes in August with more safety monitors, replaced classroom locks and a better surveillance system, leading officials to consider similar measures for schools nationwide. And it's not just safety measures that have been proposed -- suggestions of schools and educators providing more mental health assessments and resources for students aims to prevent gun violence, too.
Even though gun violence has taken a dominant role in the nation’s dialogue, part of the issue is not getting as much attention. Almost 40% of non-shooter gun violence victims on school campuses are black, yet many of these instances don’t get the same degree of coverage as other similar events, ThinkProgress reports. And officials are still struggling to define what a school shooting is, making it more difficult to come up with policies and prevention methods.
- Educator's School Safety Network States of Concern: An Analysis of U.S. States with High Rates of School-Based Violent Threats and Incidents
- USA TODAY 51% of school violence incidents flared in just 10 states last year. Is your state one of them?
- The Washington Post Scarred by school shootings