Safeguarding Student Wellbeing While Preventing School Shootings

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The return of students to the classroom in fall 2021 has unfortunately been accompanied by another deadlier return: school shootings. From Texas to North Carolina, shootings at schools have taken place in just the first few weeks students have been back on campus.

As of September, there have already been more school shootings in 2021 than in any previous year. Since the beginning of the year, more than 4,000 children across the country have been injured or killed by firearms.

Policies to Keep Students Safe

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School took the lives of 26 students and educators. Since then, schools have used a variety of practices to protect students from violence. The resurgence of school shootings has renewed pressure to adopt policies to keep students safe.

If schools choose to use any of these policies or practices, school leaders have the responsibility to put the safety and well-being of students first.

Active Shooter Drills, School Security Personnel, and Threat Assessment

In conjunction with America’s Safe Schools Week (October 17-23), Sandy Hook Promise has released a trio of guiding principles around Active Shooter Drills, School Security Personnel, and Threat Assessment. All three of these practices can have a dangerous and disparate impact on students.

The burden of this imbalance can disproportionately fall on students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities. Our principles outline considerations for prioritizing student wellbeing and reducing trauma in these commonly used practices. Students should not be harmed in the process of trying to prevent school shootings and other acts of violence. 

These principles were developed in collaboration with members of our National Youth Advisory Board and have been informed by their experiences. We hope these will help school communities and policymakers center student wellbeing as they seek out ways to improve school safety. 

How You Can Help

Download these principles, which will provide guardrails to protect students in schools that choose to use these approaches. It’s critical that all adults, including educators and school leaders, do everything in their power to reduce harm to students. Furthermore, if your school is already using one of these practices, you can start with these considerations created by Sandy Hook Promise. Reach out to [email protected] if you need policy support in your community.