Fewer people died or were injured in school shootings this year than in the previous two. But the overall number of school shooting incidents in 2023 was the second-highest for any year since Education Week began tracking them in 2018.
Incidents of gun violence in and around schools reverberate among students, staff, families, and community members. This is true whether the incidents make national news or remain local stories only. And it’s true whether zero people, one person, or many people die.
Education Week began tracking school shooting incidents in 2018, just two weeks before the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., where 14 high school students and three adults died.
Since then, EdWeek has counted 181 school shooting incidents to include in its tracker. The EdWeek tracker counts incidents in which at least one person other than the individual firing the weapon is injured by gunfire on school property when school is in session or during a school-sponsored event.
Thirty-seven incidents that fit that definition occurred in 2023. Just shy of a third of them took place at sporting events, where school personnel have a weaker handle on attendees and security than they do in their buildings when school is in session.
One school shooting this year met the Gun Violence Archive’s definition of a mass shooting—in which four or more people other than the shooter died or were injured by gunfire. That was when three students and three adults died in a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., on March 27.
Nationwide, 20 people died and 42 others were injured this year in instances of gun violence in and around schools.
While communities around the country were reeling from losses from this year’s shootings, the fallout from mass shootings that took place in previous years continued to play out in 2023.
This year marked the 11th anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 young children and six adults died. In November, federal lawmakers visited the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building in Parkland, Fla., where the 2018 shooting took place for a walk-through before the structure is torn down.
And earlier this year, school districts struggled to access funds for gun violence prevention set aside by Congress in the wake of the 2022 shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 elementary students and two teachers, Education Week reported.
All the while, school districts continue to weigh steps they can take in an attempt to ensure students’ safety, from physical security measures to beefed-up mental health services.