Study Finds Steep Drop in Violence at California Schools

The epidemic of mass shooting across the U.S. has left parents and teachers in a near constant state of worry. But in many respects, California’s schools are safer now than they ever have been. That’s according to a new report from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, which found a dramatic reduction in everyday violence across the state’s middle and high school campuses.

The report is based on data from the confidential California Healthy Kids Survey. Researchers analyzed responses from over 6 million students taken between 2001 and 2019.

Over the 18-year period, physical fights on school campuses declined 56%. There was a 70% reduction in reports of students carrying a gun onto school grounds and a 59% decline in threats with a weapon. For Black and Latino students, the declines in violence and attempted violence were even more stark.

“These findings were evident in more than 95% of California schools, in every county, and not in wealthy suburban schools only,” said the study’s co-author Ron Avi Astor

“Each school shooting is a devastating act that terrorizes the nation, and there is a growing sense in the public that little has changed in two decades to make schools safe,” Astor explained. “But mass shootings are just one part of this story. Overall, on a day-to-day basis for most students, American schools are safer than they’ve been for many decades.”