School Climate & Safety Interactive

School Shootings in 2021: How Many and Where

Education Week’s 2021 School Shooting Tracker
March 01, 2021 | Updated: January 18, 2022 3 min read
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School shootings—terrifying to students, educators, parents, and communities—always reignite polarizing debates about gun rights and school safety. To bring context to these debates, Education Week journalists in 2018 began tracking shootings on K-12 school property that resulted in firearm-related injuries or deaths.

There were 34 school shootings in 2021, 24 of which occurred after August 1. A shooting on Nov. 30, in which a student killed four people and injured seven at an Oxford, Mich., high school, was the deadliest school shooting since May 2018. As of the end of 2021, there were 92 school shootings since 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have interrupted the trend line. The 2020 figure, with 10 shootings, was significantly lower than 2019 and 2018, which each had 24.

Looking for the Latest Data?

We are continuing to track school shootings. Information about the most recent year’s school shootings is available here.

That falloff in numbers was probably due to the shift to remote learning for nearly all schools for part or all of 2020. But those using this data should note that it should not be interpreted to mean that schools were “safer.” Rather, the definition of school safety has shifted as schooling entered the home in a way it never had before.

Here’s a good parallel: Referrals to child protective services agencies fell in 2020 but that does not mean fewer children were being hurt; it reflects that schools are a main locus for reporting potential abuse. Similarly, we do not know whether, despite our 2020 school shooting figures, some students and staff were potentially more at risk of gun violence during the pandemic: Tracking off-campus shootings was beyond the scope of this project. (Schools, in general, remain among the safest places for children to be and shootings in schools are relatively rare.)

See Also

Illustration of a gun and a school in the background.
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In 2021, we continued this heartbreaking, but important work. More information about this tracker and our methodology is below.

Injuries & Deaths

Where the Shootings Happened

The size of the dots correlates to the number of people killed or injured. Click on each dot for more information.

About the Shootings

A previous version of this table included the age, sex, and status of the suspect(s). We are no longer tracking that information.

Contact Information

For media or research inquiries about this data, contact library@educationweek.org.

About This Tracker

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. Those statistics are used to fuel ongoing debates about gun control, arming teachers, and school security.

With this tracker, Education Week aims to provide a clear accounting of K-12 school shootings. There is no single right way of calculating numbers like this, and the human toll in the immediate aftermath and long term is impossible to measure. We hope to provide reliable information to help inform discussions, debates, and solutions.

Methodology

Counting Incidents

This page refers to incidents that meet all the following criteria:

  • where a firearm was discharged
  • where any individual, other than the suspect or perpetrator, has a bullet wound resulting from the incident
  • that happen on K-12 school property or on a school bus
  • that occur while school is in session or during a school-sponsored event

We do not track incidents in which the only shots fired were from an individual authorized to carry a gun, such as a school resource officer, and who did so in their official capacity.

The numbers of incidents, injuries, and deaths reported in this tracker do not include suicides or self-inflicted injuries. While suicides and attempted suicides are serious issues of health and safety, many of the critical questions and debates that those incidents raise for educators and the broader public are often distinct from those generated by school shootings.

Counting Injuries & Deaths

Injuries included in this tracker may be major or minor. While we only track incidents resulting in at least one bullet wound, total injuries are not necessarily the result of gunfire.

The total number of people killed or injured does not include the suspect or perpetrator.

Sources

In addition to our own reporting, we rely on local news outlets, school and district websites, news alerts via online search engines, the Gun Violence Archive, and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Naval Postgraduate School’s K-12 School Shooting database.

See Also

Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty

Reporting & Analysis: Lesli Maxwell, Holly Peele, Denisa R. Superville

Contributor: Stephen Sawchuk

Design & Visualization: Stacey Decker, Hyon-Young Kim

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