That’s the toll gun violence has taken on American schools so far this year. At this pace, these incidents will equal or surpass 2022’s record mark of nearly 80 active shooter events.
But if the reality of the threat isn’t enough to get your attention, perhaps knowing the target might: nearly 50 of these 70 incidents have occurred at K-12 facilities.
In response to this growing risk, and in a move to overcome an ongoing lack of adequate legislation to address these issues, more schools and school districts are taking a proactive approach by installing security measures, setting up staff and student training, and advocating for general preparedness.
The threat of gun violence is changing the American classroom.
Security Upgrades Big and Small
With multiple entry points, a lack of security personnel, and a vulnerable population, schools are a particularly inviting target for would-be perpetrators. So, educators are investing in tools and prioritizing tactics in an attempt to protect teachers and young people.
Facility upgrades, such as reinforced classroom fixtures and bulletproof whiteboards that transform into safe rooms in seconds, showcase the tangible efforts to fortify school environments. Ballistic backpacks, designed with bullet-resistant materials, offer another layer of protection at an individual level.
Even rudimentary actions are being employed, like simply keeping a piece of paper or cloth on stand-by to cover openings.
The Need for Comprehensive Training
Still, with these physical improvements in place, the importance of thorough training cannot be overstated. These initiatives—including training for situational awareness, guidance on how to spot key behavioral indicators, and understanding appropriate response methods in a moment of crisis—are essential to equip individuals with the skills, knowledge, and general preparedness needed for an active shooter incident.
The fact is, while security enhancements may help mitigate threats, they cannot guarantee the elimination of risks in this challenging environment.
“Training is a key element of preventing violence in the classroom,” says TPOP Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer William Flynn. “Educating staff and having a system in place for identifying and assessing individuals who may pose a risk of violence is critical, so that intervention and mental health support can take place.”
“No sector is more important than our hallowed halls of education, and the tragic increase in school shootings demands action,” says TPOP partner Tom Ridge, former Director of Homeland Security and Founder of Ridge Global. “Teachers and school staff across the nation need access to clear and concise online training to help them identify, mitigate, and respond to violence.”
The transformation of the American classroom due to the threat of gun violence demands a multifaceted approach. And until legislators make greater efforts to reduce incident frequency, local response is crucial. In the face of an evolving threat landscape, it’s imperative that schools increase security measures and apply comprehensive training to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone within their walls.
With expertise including Run-Hide-Fight, active shooter preparedness and response, situational awareness, de-escalation techniques, and more, The Power of Preparedness provides critical guidance that can save lives. Contact us to learn more.