Sep 14, 2023 - Health

U.S. school shootings hit another annual record high

Illustration of a row of pencils getting shorter with a bullet at the end.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The number of school shootings with casualties in the U.S. hit a new record in the 2021-22 school year and more than doubled from the previous school year, according to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Why it matters: This is now the second consecutive school year in which the U.S. broke this record.

  • The report defines a school shooting as an incident where "a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week."
  • Casualties, per the report, include someone killed or wounded in a school shooting.
  • Shootings that occurred during the COVID pandemic "on school property during remote instruction" were within that definition, the report noted.

By the numbers: There were 188 school shootings with casualties reported in the 2021-22 school year at public and private elementary and secondary schools, per the annual report, which centers on crime and safety.

  • That's up from 93 school shootings with casualties reported in the 2020-21 school year at the same types of institutions.
  • According to the report, the most commonly known situations associated with such incidents included "escalation of dispute," "drive-by," "illegal activity," "accidental firing of a weapon" and "intentional property damage."

About a third of the school shootings in the 2021-22 school year had an unknown situation associated with them.

  • "The number of wounded and the number killed during active shooter incidents showed no consistent trend over the period at the elementary and secondary level or at the postsecondary level," per the report, which tracked data since the 2000-01 school year.
  • "At both levels, in years with casualties, there are more years where the number wounded was higher than the number killed," according to the report.

The report also urged readers to "interpret these data with caution" given that latest figures are "outliers compared to prior years."

  • Though the number of school shootings with casualties spiked in the 2021-22 school year, the previous school year had already seen the highest number of school shootings with casualties in two decades.

Between the lines: Nearly 98% of the shooters at elementary and secondary schools between 2000 and 2021 were male.

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