Overview and Summary
On February 14, 2018, the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida became the spark that once again ignited a national conversation about violence in schools. Amid the political agendas, recriminations, activism, and just plain fear, a critical element has been overlooked - the need to move beyond speculation and anecdotes about school safety to a data-based analysis of the threats and incidents of violence that have occurred in K-12 United States schools during the past academic year. This report provides insights and a critical analysis of the 2017-2018 school year.
The Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN), a national non-profit school safety organization, has compiled the most current information on threats and incidents of violence in America’s schools to examine the frequency, scope, and severity of the problem.
In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 3,659 threats and incidents of violence occurred in American K-12 schools.
Perhaps the most concerning figures are the significant increases in threats and incidents from school year to school year. There were at least 3,380 threats recorded in the 2017-2018 school year, a 62% increase from 2,085 threats in the 2016-2017 school year.
The increase in actual incidents is even more alarming. This past school year included at least 279 incidents of violence compared to 131 events in the 2016-2017 school year – an increase of 113%.
Concurrent with these troubling findings, school administrators and law enforcement officials find themselves in the untenable position of having to make critical decisions about the validity of threats with little to no threat assessment protocols, few established best practices, outdated procedures, and typically, a complete lack of education-based school safety training. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, gun related issues and law enforcement solutions have become the central focus to the exclusion of a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to both violence prevention and response.
The full report has two important purposes:
1. To provide school stakeholders with the most current data and analysis available on the rate, frequency, severity, scope, and nature of violent threats and violent incidents in United States schools.
2. To provide school and law enforcement responders with an overview and understanding of the critical trends and warning signs that have emerged from an analysis of recent threats and incidents.