There were at least 3,380 threats against K-12 schools recorded in the 2017-18 school year, a 62 percent increase from threats in the 2016-17 school year, according to The Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN). The increase in actual events is similarly alarming – the past school year included at least 279 incidents of violence compared to 131 in the 2016-17 school year – a 113-percent increase.
For ESSN’s research, a “threat” is defined as an expressed intent to do harm.
The most common threats recorded in the past school year were shooting threats (38.8 percent of all threats) followed by generalized or unspecified threats of violence (35.8 percent) and bomb threats (22.5 percent). Threats are most commonly delivered by social media, accounting for 39.2 percent of all threats against K-12 schools last year. Written threats were discovered within the school 20 percent of the time (most commonly in restrooms), and verbal comments were the source of threats 12.7 percent of the time.
The vast majority of threats (81 percent) were made by students, and males were the source of threats 83 percent of the time.
The aftereffect of the Parkland school shooting was immediate when it comes to threats of violence – 43 percent of all the threats documented in the 2017-18 school year occurred in the 30 days following the Parkland shooting – an average of 24.2 threats per day.
Regarding incidents, there were 77 instances of guns found on campus (28 percent of all incidents; a staggering 267-percent increase over the 2016-17 school year), followed by 70 events of shootings or shots fired and 38 thwarted attacks or plots.