Most Teenagers Are Scared of a Shooting in Their Schools and So Are Their Parents

By Lesli A. Maxwell — April 18, 2018 2 min read
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A majority of U.S. teens are fearful of a shooting taking place in their school, and their parents are similarly concerned, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

In the wake of the mass shooting that killed 17 students and educators at a Parkland, Fla., high school in February, 57 percent of teens aged 13-17 report being “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about a shooting in their own schools, according to Pew. Just 13 percent of the teenagers who responded to the survey said they were not at all worried.

Pew conducted the survey in March and April, in the weeks following the massacre in Parkland—the deadliest school shooting in an American high school—and amid the massive student walkouts and marches that have taken place across the country in support of ending gun violence in schools and communities. Another wave of student walkouts is set for April 20, which marks the 19th anniversary of the mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Sixty-three percent of parents with teenagers said they are worried about a shooting in their childrens’ schools, the Pew survey found, with low-income parents expressing the greatest levels of fear.

Non-white teenagers expressed higher levels of worry than their white peers, with 73 percent of Hispanic teens saying they were at least somewhat worried about the potential for an attack. And more girls said they are worried about a shooting than boys.

The survey also delved into teens’ views on how to make schools safer and prevent future shootings, with 86 percent of them saying that keeping people with mental illnesses from buying guns and improving mental-health services would be effective. Nearly 80 percent said metal detectors in schools would be effective and 66 percent said banning assault-style weapons would be effective.

By contrast, 39 percent said arming teachers would be an effective way to keep school shootings from happening, while 35 percent said such a policy would not be effective at all.

The nationally representative survey featured interviews with more than 1,000 parents who have a teen ages 13 to 17, as well as interviews with 743 teens. Interviews were conducted online and by telephone from March 7 to April 10, 2018. You can read more about Pew’s methodology here.

Education Week reporters have also interviewed students on this issue. Take a look:

Photo: Crime scene tape runs outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a mass shooting there Feb. 14 --Gerald Herbert/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.