School shootings in 2020-21 soared to the highest number in two decades, says a federal report that examines crime and safety in U.S. schools. The report was released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The surge in school shootings was stark: There were 93 incidents with casualties at public and private schools in 2020-21, compared to 23 in the 2000-01 school year, the Washington Post reports. The record year included 43 incidents with deaths and 50 with injuries only. The report uses a broad definition of shootings, including instances when guns were fired or brandished on school property, or when a bullet struck school grounds for any reason, regardless of whether students were present. During the coronavirus pandemic, the definition includes shootings that happened on school property during remote instruction. Ron Avi Astor, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, welcomed the broader definition, saying the report reflected a more complete picture, at a time when the 19 children and two teachers killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, remains prominent.
At the same time, some pointed out that schools are by far one of the safest places around for young people, who are more likely to be shot outside of school than inside. “The increase in shootings in schools is likely a consequence of an overall increase in gun violence and not specific to schools,” said Dewey Cornell, a professor at the University of Virginia. “However, most schools will never have a shooting, and their main problems will be fighting and bullying.” Students aged 12 to 18 did not express great fear about their own schools according to the report. Fewer than five percent were afraid of harm or an attack during the school year, according to 2019 data in the report. It was hard to square the positive trends with the rise in shootings, said Annette Anderson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. “It’s a good start but I certainly would have liked to have a deeper dive on some of this,” she said.