In the emotionally charged aftermath of school shootings, politicians, activists, news media, and ordinary citizens often cite statistics that can present a distorted view of how many of these incidents occur.
That was the case this week after the catastrophic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida when across news media and social media, the number of shootings dominating conversations was 18.
Eighteen school shootings since the start of 2018. The statistic comes from Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that advocates for stricter gun laws and uses an expansive definition of what counts as a shooting at a school.
Education Week is tracking shootings in school facilities, on school buses, or at school-sponsored events that result in at least one firearm-related injury or death. It excludes incidents such as suicides, where the only injury is self-inflicted, and shootings on college campuses. Our goal is to provide a clear accounting of K-12 school shootings.
Since Jan. 1, there have been six shootings at K-12 schools by the Education Week count.
Two of those—the Jan. 23 shooting at a high school in Benton, Ky., and the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—killed 19 people, 16 of them were students and three were staff members. A third incident—in the parking lot of a Philadelphia high school—killed a 32-year-old man. Dozens more students and adults have been wounded by gunfire in those shootings, as well as three other incidents.
There is no single right way of calculating numbers like this, and the human toll in the immediate aftermath and long term are impossible to measure. We hope only to provide reliable information to help inform discussions, debates, and paths forward until such reports are deemed unnecessary.