Despite the fact that the pandemic hindered schools from opening their doors in 2019 and 2020, it did not hinder school shootings in 2021. In fact, 14 school shootings were reported in the year 2021 according to this article on Education Week.org.
This article reminds us that “The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting shift to remote learning, interrupted the trend of school shootings, the data show, as there were only 10 shootings in all of 2020 compared to 25 in 2019 and 24 in 2018.” However, we cannot ignore the steady increase in school shootings across the country as data reveals.
The first school shooting that is documented in America occurred in 1764. It is known as the Pontiac Rebellion School Massacre. 13 students went into class that day and only 3 came out (Dixon,2005). During the 19th century, there were 49 K–12 school shootings. In the 20th century there were 207 K–12 school shootings nationwide., Since 2000 there have been 152 K–12 school shootings. School violence has amplified by 19% in the 21st century.
Needless to say, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors and students are alarmed. Recently, yet again U.S. citizens hear of another school shooting. A 15-year-old student was charged with murder and terrorism in Oxford Township, Mich. For killing four students and injuring more. According to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings database this school shooting was the deadliest school shooting since the Santa Fe, Texas, High School massacre in 2018. Let us not forget that the U.S. has had 31 mass killings this year of which 28 involved firearms.
When it comes to ages, 69% of those committing violent acts using a gun within the school were between 10 and 19 years of age. Meanwhile, 15% were students between the ages of 20 and 29 (Vossekuil et al., 2002). The perpetrators race is also documented, 76% were Caucasian, 12% were African American, 2% were Native American, and 2% were Asian (Lee, 2013). 99% of these school shootings were committed by males. One-fifth of these students were diagnosed with a mental disorder yet 78% of school shooters had a history of suicide attempts before the date of their attack.
The hardest question to answer is why someone especially a student would want to do such a permanent and awful action. Data shows that the two leading cases are bullying at 87% and side effects from prescribed psychiatric drugs at 12%. However, a federal investigation in the United States has not studied the relationship between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shootings so far.
In order to see just how much school shootings have increased since 2013 (Sandy Hook school shooting) alone, here is a line chart:
For a more in-depth map please go to Education Week.
Lee, J. H. (2013). School shootings in the U.S. public schools: Analysis through the eyes of an educator. Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning, 6, 88–120.
Vossekuil, B., Fein, R. A., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The final report and findings of the safe school initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education.
Dixon, D. (2005). Never come to peace again: Pontiac’s uprising and the fate of the British Empire in North America. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.