At a time when school shootings are top of mind for seemingly every K-12 parent in the country, intriguing data indicates that an overwhelming majority of parents still support having armed officers in their schools.
Just last week, Nikolas Cruz, the gunman responsible for the massacre that left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, was given life in prison without parole, sending parents of victims into despair.
“This is insane. Everyone knows, right? This is insane,” said Chen Wang, cousin of one of the victims, Peter Wang. “We need justice.”
“I’m disgusted with those jurors. I’m disgusted with the system,” said Ilan Alhadeff, who lost his daughter Alyssa in the shooting. “That you can allow 17 dead and 17 others shot and wounded and not give the death penalty. What do we have a death penalty for?”
Meanwhile, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District suspended the entirety of its police department amid investigations after the district’s failure to respond to the shooting at Robb Elementary School.
As school security continues to grow in importance among district administrators and state legislation, it’s important to understand parents’ perspectives on the matter, and, surprisingly, parents are becoming increasingly supportive of armed officers on campus.
In August, PDK Poll released the preliminary results of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, which indicated that 80% of all adults strongly/somewhat support armed police in schools. However, when the focus is shifted to public school parents, that number drops to 58%.
This week, the Pew Research Center asked nearly 4,000 K-12 parents about their thoughts on school safety. Understandably, in light of recent events, a great number of parents are concerned for their child’s safety.
Nearly 32% of parents say they are “very” or “extremely worried” over the possibility of a shooting occurring in their child’s school. But unlike the parent feedback from the PDK’s data from August, 82% of parents say arming police officers and school SROs will be “extremely” or “somewhat” effective to prevent school shootings.
Here are some other key findings from the survey:
- 91% of parents say improving mental health screening and treatment will be “extremely” or “somewhat” effective in preventing school shootings.
- 61% of parents say banning assault-style weapons will be “extremely” or “somewhat” effective.
- 79% of parents say adding metal detectors in schools will be “extremely” or “somewhat” effective.
- 49% of parents say arming teachers and school administrators will be “extremely” or “somewhat” effective.