Experts say we can prevent school shootings. Here’s what the research says

In 2018, a Gallup poll also found that most teachers do not want to carry guns in schools and are more supportive of gun control measures than safety measures to make schools “harder”. When asked which specific measures would be “most effective” in preventing shootings in schools, 57% of teachers favored a universal background check, and the same number, 57%, favored a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons used in Parkland attacks. .

Raise the age limit for gun ownership

School safety researchers support tightening the age limit for gun ownership from 18 to 21. They say the 18-year-old is too young to buy a gun; Adolescent brains are very emotional. And they mentioned that the school shooters in Parkland, Santa Fe, Newtown, Columbine and Uvalade were all under the age of 21.

School safety researchers support universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons. But it’s not just about how shooters legally acquire firearms. A 2019 report by the Secret Service found that the gun used in the half-shot they fired at the school was either not easily accessible at home or meaningfully secure.

Of course, the school has no age limit and no control over gun storage. But they can still do a lot.

The school can support the social and emotional needs of the students

Many conversations about securing schools have focused on strengthening schools by adding police officers and metal detectors. But experts say schools should actually be the focus Soften To support the social and emotional needs of students.

Odyssey Johnson Jr., of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Safe and Healthy School, said: “Our first preventive strategy should be to respect children, to make them feel connected to and involved in school.”

Members of the community gathered for prayer in Uvalade Town Square in the wake of the mass shooting at Rob Elementary School.
Members of the community gathered for prayer in Uvalade Town Square in the wake of the mass shooting at Rob Elementary School. (Jordan Wonderhar / Getty Images)

This means building children’s skills around conflict resolution, stress management and empathy for classmates – skills that can help reduce all forms of unwanted behavior, including fights and bullying.

In their report, the Secret Service found that most of the school attackers they studied were harassed. And while we’re still learning about what happened in Ubalade, preliminary reports suggest that the gunman was regularly targeted.

Jackie Noviki has led multiple school safety investigations in the U.S. government’s accountability office. He and his team identified some of the things schools can do to make their classrooms and hallways safer, including “anti-bullying training for staff and teachers, adult supervision, things like hall monitors, and the process of reporting anonymous adverse behavior.”

The Secret Service recommends that schools implement what they call threat assessment models, where trained staff – including an administrator, a school counselor or a psychologist, as well as a law enforcement representative – work together to identify and assist students in crisis before harming others. .

All of this has money to help schools

One bit of good news: Outbreaks of federal aid have led to a huge leap in the will and capacity of schools to recruit mental health care workers. According to the White House, with the help of federal covid relief money, there has been a 65% increase in social workers in schools and a 17% increase in counselors.

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz contributed to this story.

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