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"Economic Insecurity and the Rise in Gun Violence at U.S. Schools"

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School shootings are more frequent when the unemployment rate rises, researchers at Northwestern University say in a new study in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

The researchers compiled a database of 381 shootings that occurred at K-12 schools and on higher education campuses between 1990 and 2013, comparing their frequency to various economic indicators. The incidents were not necessarily mass shootings; they included all intentional or accidental firearm discharges on a school campus that involved "students or school employees, either as perpetrators, bystanders, or victims."

Researchers found gun violence at schools increased from 2007 to 2013, and the rates varied by geographic regions and cities. In particular, the study found that higher unemployment rates in particular areas were associated with higher rates of school shootings.

"Joblessness is related to lowered self-esteem, diminished status, and detrimental behavior," the researchers noted, adding that young people may be affected by added stress from their parents or family members being unemployed or from worry that they will not be able to get a job after graduation. As a result, the study authors believe that "gun violence at schools is a response, in part, to the breakdown in the expectation that sustained participation in the educational system will improve economic opportunities and outcomes."

That said, gun violence remains extremely rare in schools, it found.

Vol. 36, Issue 20, Page 5

Published in Print: February 8, 2017, as School Safety
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