Parents lack confidence that their children's schools will be able to stop a gunman, according to new research from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Researchers found only about a third of parents polled were extremely or very confident about their children’s safety in school, while 40 percent were moderately confident and about 2 in 10 said they have little to no confidence.
Most Americans don’t blame schools for shootings, according to the poll, though the parents of school-age children are more likely than other adults to blame shootings on the schools themselves.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they put little to no blame on schools. Just 9 percent said they believe schools shoulder a great deal of blame. Forty-nine percent of parents of school-age children put blame on schools, compared to 36 percent of other adults, according to the survey.
While the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., galvanized the gun debate, 67 percent of respondents said schools have become less safe since the shooting, compared to only 13 percent who said they have become safer, according to the AP/NORC.
Close to half of Americans surveyed said they “strongly” blame school shootings on easy access to guns and about two-thirds favor tighter gun laws, according to the poll.
The research found an age gap on several questions. Forty-four percent of adults under 30 said tightening gun laws would make schools safer, compared to 60 percent of adults over 30 who said the same. Half of adults under 30 say allowing trained teachers to carry guns would make schools less safe, compared to about a third of adults over 30 who said the same, according to the poll.
The generation that came of age after the 1999 Columbine shooting, which will see its 20th anniversary this week, was less likely than other adults to believe measures such as lockdown drills, armed guards, metal detectors and anti-bullying campaigns made schools safer, although a majority of respondents overall were confident in their effectiveness, according to AP/NORC.
“What the survey data tell us is that we need to take the next step in our safety efforts to purposefully and strategically communicate how successful our efforts have been in making schools safe, secure places where students can be their authentic selves and learn at their best,” Bob Farrace, director of public affairs at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, told the AP.
The AP and NORC Center surveyed 1,063 adults between March 14 and 18. The poll has a margin of error of 4.1 points.