New School Safety Report – Relative Risks of Death in U.S. Schools Released

Safe Havens has released a revealing new report – Relative Risks of Death in U.S. Schools.  While report author Steve Satterly found a scarcity of reliable national data for several key areas such as fatal accidents not related to vehicles and deaths from medical emergencies, the data he found was very revealing. 

Of particular interest was the data he found relating to on-campus student suicide.  I was personally quite surprised that these types of events were so statistically prevalent in relation to violent school deaths.  While we have emphasized the need to devote increased attention to this, I did not realize how common these events are in relation to school homicides.  This evaluation is the first that I have seen that utilized a strict adherence to the United States Department of Homeland Security definition for active shooter incidents providing a clearer picture of the relative risk of different types of school violence as well as the likelihood of student and staff deaths from violence in relation to school-related traffic incidents.  While we often see much higher numbers listed for active shooter incidents, these typically include active shooter incidents in higher education settings, targeted acts of violence that do not meet the U.S.D.H.S. criteria for active shooter incidents and other types of incidents.  In contrast to these types of compilations, Steve provides the definition used, lists his sources and lists the incidents counted to derive the total number of active shooter incidents counted for the fifteen year time span covered.  This should be helpful to school and public safety officials as well as the media as we have had many calls from those sectors who have noted the widely varying numbers lack of a formal definition and a inadequate documentation on for active shooter incident deaths that are frequently quoted.

We feel this report will be helpful for school and public safety officials who want to take care to devote resources to the prevention, preparedness for and response to different types of incidents.  For example, the report shows the need to focusing efforts for school suicide and domestic violence incidents on campus in relation to the efforts relating to active shooter incidents.  If deaths from student suicide are as prevalent as government data cited in the report suggests, it makes sense to focus resources on this far more common form of student and staff death on school property as well as on less common but very real risks from active shooter incidents.   

We are deeply appreciative for the willingness of Steve Satterly, Chris Dorn, and other analysts to perform the many hours of work on this project on a pro bono basis.  We hope you will find this report to be helpful in your work.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.