- 38% fear for child’s physical safety at school
- Down slightly from 44% reading last year after Uvalde shooting
- 14% of parents say child has expressed safety concerns to them
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Parents of school-aged children in the U.S. remain more apprehensive than usual about their child’s physical safety at school, as 38% say they fear for their child’s safety. Although this is down slightly from the 44% measured last year in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, it is one of the highest readings in Gallup’s trend that dates back to 1977. The historical high, 55%, was measured immediately after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in which two students killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide.
The latest results are from Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey, conducted Aug. 1-23.
Over the past 25 years, parental concern has typically risen after there has been a prominent mass shooting. Majorities or near majorities of parents were fearful in several 1999 measures after the Columbine event.
In addition to Columbine, a March 2001 shooting in Santee, California, also sent fear spiking to 45%, a level nearly matched last year after the Uvalde incident.
While parental concern is lower this year than last year, the 38% currently expressing fear exceeds what Gallup measured after the 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting in Pennsylvania, the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, and the 2018 Parkland High School shooting in Florida.
One in Seven Parents Say Child Has Expressed Fear About School Safety
A separate question in the survey aims to measure schoolchildren’s safety concerns, by asking parents to report whether any of their children have expressed worry about feeling unsafe at school. Fourteen percent of parents currently say their child has. This figure is down from 20% last year, which was one of the highest percentages in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1999.
The current figure exceeds the historical average of 12%; in most years, between 8% and 12% of parents have said their child has expressed concern to them. The higher levels were generally found shortly after prominent school shootings, including in 1999, 2001, 2018 and 2022.
Though memories of the tragic Uvalde shooting have faded somewhat, parents are still more likely to be concerned about their children’s safety at school than before the attack. Moreover, perhaps indicating these events are having a cumulative effect, parents are more concerned now than they were in the aftermath of other high-profile school shooting tragedies.
Although the federal government took steps to address gun violence and school safety after Uvalde, the issue continues to be a problem. More than 20 shootings have occurred on K-12 school grounds so far this year, including one resulting in six deaths at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, in March.
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