Depending on geography and calendars, most U.S. schools have been in session anywhere from 4 to 19 school days so far this school year. Regardless of the actual number of days, the number of threats, and violent incidents that have occurred so far this school year is unsettling at best. While significant conclusions cannot be drawn from this brief burst of data alone, certain trends are beginning to emerge:
- There have already been 4 shooting incidents in schools, with 1 fatality (the shooter) and four injuries.
- Unlike last year’s data where social media accounted for only 5.6% of bomb threats, so far this year, social media postings were the method of delivery for 24% of all threats of school violence (when the method of delivery was reported).
- 34 of the 50 states have already reported or experienced threats or actual incidents of violence either in the form of a bomb or shooting threat, or an actual event.
- To date there have been 52 bomb threats reported in 27 states, impacting 68 schools. More shocking is the fact that August 31 two explosive device were found outside a middle school in Washington state one of which had partially detonated. In the entire 15-16 school year there was one detonation and 4 devices found.
- So far there have been 108 violent incidents and threats impacting the safety and instructional time of students in 135 schools.
What happens for the rest of this school year remains to be seen, but bomb threats and other threats of violence have been present since literally the first day of school for many educational institutions. Clearly this is not a “spring” problem but a fact of daily life for U.S. schools. More importantly, these are not all “just threats”. With four actual shootings, four additional gun incidents, and an explosive detonation in the opening days of the 2016-2017 school, the need for adequate preparation, prevention, and response planning and training is frighteningly obvious.
The Educator’s School Safety Network will continue to gather and analyze data about threats and incidents of violence in schools throughout the 2016-2017 school year, and will provide periodic updates as to our findings. For best access, follow us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/eSchoolSafety or on Twitter at @eSchoolSafety. If you’d like to receive these updates in an email form, please sign up at http://eepurl.com/bbh5Nj