Half of Violent Threats Against Schools Occur in Just 10 States

When a mass shooting occurs at a U.S. school, it is nearly impossible to miss the story. But tragic incidents like the killing of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and 10 more at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, are just the most horrifying of a rising number of violent threats and incidents directed against the nation’s schools.

According to a new report from the Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN), a nonprofit group that compiles data on school-based violent threats and incidents in U.S. schools, there were 3,375 threats of violence and 279 violent incidents recorded in U.S. schools during the 2017–2018 school year. The total number of threats increased 62% year over year and the number of incidents more than doubled.

ESSN has ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on a calculation of the number of incidents and threats in each state weighted by population. The ranking is based on data in four sub-categories: number of violent threats; number of violent incidents; number of violent threats per million residents; and number of violent incidents per million residents. A composite score is derived that ESSN uses to name the 10 states of “most concern.”

Here are the 11 states of most concern along with their rankings and movement in the ranking compared with the 2016-2017 school year.

  • Michigan: 1, up from 10th in the previous year
  • Ohio: 2, down from 1st
  • Alabama: 3, down from 2nd
  • Kentucky: 4, up from 39th
  • Washington: 5, up from 14th
  • Pennsylvania: tied for 6, up from 12th
  • Mississippi: tied for 6, up from 44th
  • Florida: 8, up from 9th
  • North Carolina: 9, up from 22nd
  • Colorado: tied for 10th, up from 24th
  • Idaho: tied for 10th, up from 43rd

Based solely on the number of threats and incidents, the large states dominate: California, Florida, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia. Based on the number of threats and incidents per million population, the picture is quite different: Maine, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Michigan, Mississippi, Kansas, Vermont, Wyoming and Kentucky.

ESSN noted:

The top ten states by incidents per million residents had an average of 2.05 incidents per million residents. The remaining states averaged only .68 incidents per million residents. This indicates that the states of concern adjusted for state population are experiencing school-based violent incidents more than three times as often as other states.

The full ESSN report is available through the group’s website at