Majority of teens worry about shootings at their schools

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Research shows that almost 60% of teens are very or somewhat worried that there could be a shooting at their school. 

Pew Research Center released a report today by Nikki Graf showing teens and their parents equally worried about school shootings. This comes a day before national school walkouts to support creating safer schools. It is the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. 

A majority, 57%, of teens say they worry that there could be a shooting at their school, with 25% indicating that they are very worried. Only 13% said they were not worried at all.  Parents are slightly more worried, with 63% reporting their fear of a shooting at their childrens’ schools. 

Both statistics are higher when broken down by gender race and economics. Pew Reports that

School shooting fears differ by gender as well: 64% of girls say they are very or somewhat worried about a shooting happening at their school, compared with 51% of boys.

Nonwhite teens express a higher level of concern than their white peers. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of nonwhite teens, including 73% of Hispanics, say they are at least somewhat worried about this, compared with 51% of white teens.

Parents who earn less worry more. 

Lower-income parents are particularly worried – in fact, 82% of parents with annual household incomes under $30,000 say they are at least somewhat worried that a shooting could happen at their teen’s school, compared with 64% of those with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999 and 53% of those with incomes of $75,000 or more. 

There is strong support for policies addressing mental health.

Teens strongly support (86%) both preventing people with mental health issues from purchasing guns, and improving ways to identify, screen and treat people with mental health issues. Almost 80% of students supported metal detectors in schools; and 66% said a ban on assault weapons would make schools safer.

About eight-in-ten black teens (80%) and Hispanic teens (79%) say this (banning assault weapons) would be at least somewhat effective; a smaller share of white teens say the same (59%).

Slightly less than 40% overall supported arming teachers and school staff. Almost the same amount said arming personnel would not be at all effective.

Non-white teens show even less support for arming school staff. 

Black teens are far less likely than white and Hispanic teens to say allowing teachers to carry guns in schools would be at least somewhat effective: 23% of black teens say this, compared with 44% of white teens and 39% of Hispanic teens.

Methodology of the report  

Image from Pew Research Center

This survey was conducted with 1,058 parents who have teenagers aged 13-17. There were 743 teens surveyed. The surveys were conducted from March 7 to April 10, 2018, by phone and online. The margin of error ranges from 4.5-5%.