School Climate & Safety

Five Years After Parkland Tragedy, School Shooting Numbers Grow

By Elizabeth Heubeck — February 13, 2023 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Five years ago this week, the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., claimed the lives of 14 students and three staff members, and injured 17 more.

Weeks before that horrific incident, Education Week began tracking shootings in schools that resulted in injury or death. And since that time, other high-profile, mass school shootings have killed and injured people in Santa Fe and Uvalde, Texas, along with dozens of other shootings that did not garner the same media coverage and public outcry, but were no less devastating to the schools, students, educators, families, and communities affected.

In all, 103 people have been killed and 281 people injured from school shootings since 2018. In 2022, there were 51 school shootings—more than double the numbers for 2018 and 2019, which both saw 24 such incidents. Last year, school shootings hit a record, with 100 people shot on school campuses and 40 people killed.

Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Parkland students banded together with other organizers across the country to demand tougher gun laws. Their protests are credited with raising awareness and support that led to legislative change in their state and some others. About a month after the Parkland mass shooting, Florida lawmakers approved the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which placed new restrictions on rifle sales and increased the age to legally purchase a gun to 21. In 2018, a total of 50 new laws were enacted across the nation restricting access to guns.

But, as our data show, shootings in schools in 2022 reached their highest level since we began keeping count. Experts weighed in on the impact of school violence on students, the ongoing behind-the-scenes work happening to reduce threats and incidents of school violence, and why they believe the shootings continue.

See also

Sign indicating school zone.

Impact of school violence on students

Franci Crepeau-Hobson, the chairwoman of the National Association of School Psychologists’s School Safety and Crisis Response Committee and professor of school psychology at the University of Colorado Denver, said school violence can have a serious emotional impact on students. “Particularly for kids who are more vulnerable to begin with, in the short term, it can totally undermine their sense of safety and security,” she said. The resulting fear and anxiety can impact students’ ability to concentrate or sleep.

“In the educational environment,” she added,"there’s not a lot of learning going on.”

Crepeau-Hobson also explained that certain circumstances make it more difficult for students to recover emotionally from the experience of being in a school community where a shooting has occurred. Directly witnessing a shooting or losing a loved one to a shooting greatly exacerbates children’s emotional suffering, she observed, as do pre-existing mental illnesses or trauma and a lack of strong social support.

“They are going to struggle and need additional supports,” Crepeau-Hobson said, of those students who fall into any of these categories.

In addition to these challenges, Crepeau-Hobson noted that pandemic-related isolation and lack of typical interaction led, in many instances, to what she referred to as “arrested development,” which can affect children attempting to cope with feelings of isolation and anger. “Kids don’t have the strategies and skills we would expect them to have at given ages,” she said. “They didn’t have the opportunity to be in school and engage on a regular basis and learn the skills to interact and resolve conflict.”

Prevention programs work, but are used infrequently, say experts

The good news is that there’s a growing body of evidence-based research around how to address these problems. When effectively applied, these research-based interventions can stem student violence, according to some experts.

“Many states have taken steps to encourage the use of behavioral threat assessment programs in their schools, and a lot of progress has been made that might not be obvious to the public,” Dewey G. Cornell, a professor of education at the University of Virginia, wrote in an email.

Cornell explained that, in thousands of instances, assessment teams have been able to resolve student threats without violence. But the school-based programs that make this possible involve moving away from zero tolerance programs and reducing the use of exclusionary discipline, like suspensions and expulsions, according to Cornell. Instead, they require hiring and training of employees such as school counselors, psychologists, nurses, and social workers.

“Most of the government funding for school safety has gone toward security systems and too little has gone toward prevention services,” Cornell wrote. “The problem of school violence is not solved by installing metal detectors or security cameras. It requires proactive efforts to help distressed students long before they show up at school with a gun.”

Related Tags:


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Are School Buses Safe? An Expert Explains
A perennial concern is getting new attention.
4 min read
Photo of rescue workers and turned over school bus.
Brandy Taylor / iStock / Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Jury Finds Michigan School Shooter’s Mother Guilty of Manslaughter
Jennifer Crumbley was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for her son's mental health.
2 min read
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP
School Climate & Safety A School Removed Bathroom Mirrors to Keep Students From Making TikToks. Will It Work?
The desperate strategy for keeping students in class illuminates the challenge schools face in competing with social media.
5 min read
Empty blue school bathroom showing the bathroom sinks without mirrors.
School Climate & Safety Researchers Analyzed Years of Reports to a School Safety Tipline. Here's What They Learned
More than a third of gun-related tips in one state outlined possible school attacks, a new analysis finds.
4 min read
Illustration of a cellphone with a red exclamation mark inside of a word bubble.