School shootings escalated in 2018; affect local schools
September 19, 2019
Across the nation last year, school shootings skyrocketed. The worst year for school shootings had been 2006, when there were 59. But according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, last year almost doubled that figure: 110 incidents involving shots fired at schools.
Just during the first two days of this week, when Freedom Public Schools shut down due to a threat delivered via social media, several other Oklahoma schools have faced similar situations.
Yukon Public Schools closed Tuesday due to a threat made on social media that warned middle school students not to go to school that day. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is involved in that case, according to KOCO 5.
A student at Oklahoma City's Santa Fe High School is in custody after sending someone a text purporting to come from a third party making a threat against the school.
In Edmond, four schools went into lockdown Tuesday after someone called police allegedly saying they were in a school bathroom with a gun, according to news reports.
On Monday, 18-year-old Alexis Wilson, who'd attended McAlester High School, is in jail after allegedly saying she was going to go to the school to “shoot 400 people just for fun.”
What Does the Data Say?
It's a scary situation, especially when school shootings appear to be escalating dramatically. But finding good information to assess the risk for children in this area is very difficult.
Part of the problem is collecting the information, at least in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Department of Education, for example, was unable to provide data on gun violence at schools. “We're not required to track that,” said Carrie Burkhart, the department's assistant executive director of public relations. “We do have a statewide incident report, but it's self-reported by the school districts so there's no way to validate the information,” she said.
The K-12 School Shooting Database (chds.us/ssdb/category/graphs) reports Oklahoma's had 11 school shootings in the past decade – which is terrible, until you notice that Texas has had 132.
The database is a research project, currently comprising 1,360 school shootings, conducted at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security. It documents every instance in which a gun is brandished or fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason. It identifies a huge variety of factors that allow researchers to identify patterns common to school shootings.
Interestingly, the worst months of the year for school shootings are September and January – each averaging about 55 incidents each year. The months with the fewest shootings are July (13), June (24), March (25), and December (26). The rest of the year, school shooting incidents average between 32 and 41 per month.
School shooters are overwhelmingly between the ages of 14 and 18. The vast majority are students of the school, but nearly half that number have no relationship with the school.
The shooter is usually solo. That was the case in 347 incidents in the past decade, with only 21 of the incidents having two shooters.
Most shooting incidents are a result of a dispute that escalated (this was true in 105 incidents in the past decade), but accidents also made up a good proportion – 57 were accidents. Unfortunately, in 66 incidents the cause was never discovered. That covers most events in which a gun is fired on school grounds. Other significant causes were gang violence and suicide. Twenty-four of the incidents involved indiscriminate shooting; 22 had their roots in domestic disputes and the shooting targeted the family member.
Handguns were used in 270 incidents in the past ten years – by far the most common type of firearm. Rifles and shotguns were used in 14 and 13 incidents, respectively, with “other,” “combination,” and “multiple gun types,” being used in 12, 9 and 4 incidents respectively.
The incidents happen on Fridays more often than other days. According to the study, 105 incidents in the past decade took place on Friday, with about 70 incidents each on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. About 60 happened on Mondays. Few took place on weekends.