Lethal Violence in Schools
Executive Summary

Teenagers say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.

  • 87 percent said shootings are motivated by a desire to "get back at those who have hurt them."
  • 86 percent said "other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them" causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.
Students recognize that being a victim of abuse at home or witnessing others being abused at home may cause violence in school.
  • 61 percent said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.
  • 54 percent said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence at school.
Students have access to guns.
  • 61 percent of the respondents said they know students who could bring a gun to school if they wanted to.
  • 24 percent of students say they could "easily get a gun if I wanted to."
The potential for violence in our nation's high schools is widespread.
  • 37 percent of respondents said there are "kids at my school who I think might shoot someone."
  • 20 percent of respondents have heard rumors that another student plans to shoot someone, and 20 percent have also overheard another student actually talking about shooting someone at school.
  • 8 percent of respondents said they have thought about shooting someone at school.
  • 10 percent of the students said they have thought about how to shoot someone at school.
More than 10 percent of our nation's teenagers may be inclined toward violence, and more than 2.5 percent of them could be considered dangerous, meaning they have both the propensity toward violence and the means to accomplish it.

Students say their schools are not safe.
  • More than a quarter of the respondents said there schools are only "somewhat" safe, or not at all safe.
  • 75 percent of the respondents were concerned about a shooting taking place in their schools.
  • Students consider rural schools to be most dangerous, suburban schools the safest.
Only half the students would tell an adult if they overheard someone at school talking about shooting someone.
  • If students do tell anyone, they are most likely to tell a teacher, least likely to confide in a coach.
Better relationships between teachers and students are one way to stop lethal violence in the schools.
  • 23 percent said teachers should care more about their students.
  • 12 percent said teachers should intervene to stop bullying, and take a more active role in their students' lives.
  • 12 percent said teachers should listen more and pay more attention to their students.
Overall, 13 percent of the students told us there is nothing that can be done to stop school shootings.
  • The 12 percent of the students who are inclined toward violence were twice as likely to say that nothing can be done to stop shootings.
  • Students who are considered the most dangerous (2.6 percent of the sample) are even more likely (two in five) to say there is nothing that can be done to stop the violence.
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