The National Academy of Education grieves deeply with the children, families, school community, and people of Uvalde, Texas. The shooting of 19 innocent children and two teachers is horrendous. We know the fears that this most recent school shooting raises for the children and school community in Uvalde, as well as for all parents, children, and educators across the country. We recognize the bravery of teachers and staff who sought to protect these innocent young children. Our hearts ache.

While we mourn, we also have a moral duty to address the larger issues in the civic domain that contribute to the persistence of such mass violence in the United States. That this massacre occurs ten days from the massacre of innocents in Buffalo, New York testifies to how profoundly ubiquitous gun violence is in our country. No other high-income nation in the world experiences this level of gun violence (see Box 1 below). We have not made progress even after the horrors of the Sandy Hook murders ten years ago or the Columbine High School mass murders in 1999. It is time to take action to stop this madness.

In both the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, the alleged murderers had histories of disturbing behaviors, and each had histories of attachments to negative social media. The alleged murderer in Uvalde had shot his grandmother before going to Robb Elementary School with several weapons, including a semi-automatic rifle. Both alleged murderers, 18 years old, were able to legally obtain the rapid-fire weapons that were used during their attacks.

Although mental illness may have contributed to these tragedies, it is important to keep laser-focused on the reality that it is access to guns that distinguishes the U.S. from other high-income nations in explaining its epidemic of gun violence. We must wrestle with the intersections of ubiquitous access to guns, especially rapid-fire and other weapons typically used in warfare, particularly by people who may have histories of mental illness and who engage in violent actions against others. We can only address the persistence of such gun violence if we as citizens, as people living in the country, as organizations representing stakeholder interests, and in particular, those of us in education, are active and persistent in the civic decision-making process.

The status quo must not remain. It is beyond time to enact sensible gun reform measures (e.g. enhanced background checks, bans on rapid-fire weapons, improving gun safety and storage, and closing purchasing loop holes) that research shows leads to reductions in mass shootings and gun-related deaths.[1]

The National Academy of Education will remain constant in pressing our policy makers at local, state, and federal levels to use research-based approaches that can stop this violence. As educators and educational researchers, we must continue to address how to organize schooling in ways that support the social and emotional well-being of children, educate them not to hate, and teach them to be active, thoughtful, and caring civic agents.

 

Box 1

Gun Violence in the United States

School shootings and children killed by gun violence in the U.S.

  • 27 school shootings have occurred to date in 2022 across the U.S., adding to a total of 119 school shootings since 2018.[2]
  • These shootings are part of a troubling increase in the number of school shootings and the number of victims injured and killed in recent years.[3]
  • 653 children and teens have been killed by gun violence in 2022 alone.[4]

Mass shootings in the U.S.

  • 214 mass shootings have occurred in 2022 across the U.S.[5]
  • Active shooter incidents have also significantly increased in the U.S. in recent years.[6]

The U.S. in international perspective

  • The U.S. remains an outlier in its firearm-related homicide rate of 4.1 deaths per 100,000 population, which far exceeds other advanced, high-income countries.[7]
  • The U.S. firearm-related homicide rate is 22 times higher than the average of countries comprising the European Union, and it is 23 times that of Australia, which notably saw a reduction in mass shootings, total firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and female homicide victimization since implementing gun reduction measures in 1996.[7], [8], [9]

 Resources for Schools to Help Students Cope with Trauma 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

https://www.nctsn.org

Responding to a Mass Casualty Event at a School: General Guidance for the First Stage of Recovery

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-safety-and-crisis/school-violence-resources/responding-to-a-mass-casualty-event-at-a-school-general-guidance-for-the-first-stage-of-recovery

Responding to School Violence: Tips for Administrators

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-safety-and-crisis/school-violence-resources/school-violence-prevention/responding-to-school-violence-tips-for-administrators

Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/helping-youth-after-community-trauma-tips-educators

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-safety-and-crisis/school-violence-resources/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers

 

Special Acknowledgement
The National Academy of Education extends its appreciation to Ron Avi Astor and Dorothy Espelage for assistance in compiling this list.

 


[1] See research in JAMA: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.8752https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.7051; Epidemiologic Reviews: https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxv012; Harvard Injury Control Research Center: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

[2] Education Week: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01

[3] K-12 School Shooting Database: https://www.chds.us/ssdb/charts-graphs/; Gun Violence Archive: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

[4] Gun Violence Archive.

[5] Gun Violence Archive.

[6] Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/02/03/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/; Gun Violence Archive.

[7] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: https://www.healthdata.org/acting-data/gun-violence-united-states-outlier

[8] JAMA: https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.8752

[9] RAND: https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/essays/1996-national-firearms-agreement.html

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