By some measures, 2020 has had the most mass shootings of any recent year, despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down many workplaces, schools, and public venues. And mass violence events are continuing to happen. Mass violence events are traumatic for and have lasting effects on survivors and communities. They are challenging to recover from, and current evidence gaps make it more difficult to effectively respond to these events and support survivors’ recovery.

We have been exploring and elevating the needs of mass violence survivors and their communities through our work with the Center for Victim Research (CVR).

CVR recently released the first-ever synthesis (PDF) of research- and practice-based evidence on mass violence and terrorism (MVT) victimization in the United States. The resource highlights three major gaps in the evidence that, if filled, could strengthen policies and practices that support MVT survivors and more effectively address their needs.

1. We don’t know how many people are harmed by MVT events in the US

Without knowing the true extent of MVT victimization, it is challenging for communities and governmental agencies to adequately support everyone harmed by an MVT event.

2. MVT victimization is difficult to predict

Little to none of the existing evidence has identified individual characteristics that put people at risk of mass violence and terrorism. Often, MVT survivors are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

3. Most existing MVT victimization research does not acknowledge structural racism’s role in how we research and respond to MVT events

Identifying and naming the root causes of mass violence while working to better understand its prevalence could reduce inequity in the level of resources available to support survivors.

Read the full article about mass violence and terrorism survivors by Emily Tiry and Melanie Langness at Urban Institute.