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Survey reveals teachers’ divergent views on guns in schools; bullying is top safety concern

The majority of teachers responding to a RAND survey upheld the importance of a threat reporting and intervention system as critical for school safety


Jeffrey S. Solochek/Tampa Bay Times via TNS

By Police1 Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. teachers are divided on whether arming themselves would make schools safer, with one in five saying they would be interested in carrying a gun to school, according to a nationally representative survey conducted by the RAND Corporation.

More than half (54%) of the respondents believe the presence of firearms carried by teachers would diminish school safety, while 26% expressed neutrality, indicating that such measures would neither improve nor degrade safety.

The survey was conducted in late 2022, targeting the perspectives of K-12 teachers on the issue of safety in their educational establishments. The majority of teachers ranked bullying as their top safety concern.

Senior policy researcher at RAND and author of the report, Heather L. Schwartz, remarked, “Bullying, not active shooters, was teachers’ most common top safety concern, followed by fights and drugs. Despite the prevalence of anti-bullying programs, everyday school violence is a concern for teachers.”

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Visible school safety measures, beyond armed staff, were also viewed as impacting the school climate positively. The most common physical safety measures – which 80% or more of teachers said their school had in place – were visitor systems, exterior and interior locks, and staff IDs.

Based on the survey results, the researchers suggest several areas for further consideration. One is developing better approaches for school safety and security planning that might balance the frequent, lower-level forms of school violence such as bullying with lower-probability, extreme forms of school violence like shootings.

Click here to read the entire report titled “Teachers’ Views on School Safety: Consensus on Many Security Measures, But Stark Division About Arming Teachers.”

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