Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
by Sarah Supahan
With the latest school shooting, it’s likely that the issue of school safety is once again on everyone’s mind. Everytown for Gun Safety (everytownresearch.org) reports 144 incidents of gunfire on school grounds so far this year, resulting in 28 deaths and 86 injuries nationally. There were only 10 recorded shootings in 2020. The vast majority of school shootings occur on K-12 campuses (63.2%) as opposed to colleges and universities (36.6%) or daycare (.2%). And 58% of the shooters are associated with the school, such as current or former students.
Could it happen here? How can we prevent it?
Research shows that 73-80% of the guns used in school shootings come from the home, or from relatives or friends, and 48% of those guns had not been securely stored. This data suggests that secure storage can be an effective tool in addressing the source of guns used in school gun violence. Securing guns means storing them locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. It means not providing known or easy access to keys or combinations. Hiding guns where you think your children or others will not find them is not enough. Being lax and trusting your child to treat guns correctly doesn’t mean another child won’t take advantage of the easy access.
As we have reported in the past, it is important to note that for every school shooting, there are many more that are effectively prevented. Typically, attacks are averted because someone warned law enforcement or school staff. Particularly with school violence, there are often warning signs. The Secret Service and the US Department of Education studied school violence incidents and found that in 93% of cases there were behavioral warning signs that caused others to be concerned. Most attackers plan their attack, sometimes far in advance; rarely are they sudden, impulsive acts. In 81% of incidents, other people - most often the shooter’s peers - had some type of knowledge of the shooter’s plans.
While the Trinity County Office of Education and county school districts, along with our community partners, work diligently together to keep students safe, we must always remind students to bring information about any concern to adults at their school. This will allow for a quick response to protect everyone’s safety. Parents can also help to keep students safe by reporting their own concerns directly to a school administrator, a counselor or a teacher so a thorough investigation can take place. A report can also be made to our county’s anonymous tip line by calling: 1-530-723-1TIP (1847).
Parents have another role to play to help prevent school violence besides storing firearms safely. It’s suggested that:
- Children’s online communications and postings, along with their general use of the Internet, should always be monitored
- Children’s rooms should be checked if there are any concerns about the child’s behavior
- Problems or concerns should not be denied or avoided and there should never be hesitation to get a child professional help or assistance
When we all work together, keeping children’s welfare at the forefront of our minds, we can keep our children and our community safe.