A shooting Wednesday at high school in Arlington, Texas marks the 14th shooting at a K-12 school since students returned to classes in August.
According to a database maintained by Education Week, there’ve been 22 school shootings resulting in injury or death so far in 2021. Five school shootings were added to the database in just the past week.
Four people—three students and one older person—were injured in the shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington, police said. Police identified Timothy George Simpkins, 18, as a suspect and said that they believe the shooting occurred as the result of a fight between students.
Education Week’s database, which tracks 81 school shootings since 2018, shows the COVID-19 pandemic had interrupted a trend of rising school shootings as many students transitioned to online learning or went to school in hybrid models in the 2020-2021 academic year.
There may appear to be a spike in shootings on school campuses now because of the recent surge in gun violence nationally, Dewey Cornell, a professor of education at the University of Virginia and a school threat assessment expert, told Insider.
Cornell used the analogy of a “flood” that covers every building in a town, pointing to the fact that murders rose by 30% in the US in 2020, the highest increase since 1960.
“The water is going to go everywhere in a flood zone,” Cornell said. “Every building, indiscriminately, but schools are somewhat protected.”
Shopping centers, commercial buildings, and parking lots typically have higher rates of gun violence than schools, Cornell said. He added that most of the gun violence that happens on school grounds also doesn’t fit the image people have of a school shooting: a bereaved student coming to school with a gun and harming people.
“Some of it just happens to be in a school parking lot or a bus stop, or somebody coming on to school grounds because that’s where their adversary is or where they have a grievance with somebody,” Cornell said.
According to Cornell, the most effective way to prevent gun violence in schools is threat assessment. Having a threat assessment team that students and faculty can go to and report threatening statements made against the school helps officials diffuse arguments before they escalate into gun violence, or report credible threats of mass violence to the police.
“The public isn’t generally aware of this, but there are threat assessment teams in over half of our schools in the United States and they’re real busy right now,” Cornell said.