The majority of American K-12 public school teachers say they are at least somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting at their school, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Fifty-nine percent told Pew researchers that they were concerned about shootings on their campuses, with 18 percent saying they were “very” or “extremely” worried. Only 7 percent of teachers polled said they were not worried at all. School shootings reached a record high last year, with 83 separate incidents occurring in 2023.

Juliana Horowitz, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center, told The 19th that the genesis for this research came from doing preliminary interviews with educators before launching surveys on the state of teaching today. Many brought up concerns about gun violence and safety. “In asking about the day-to-day of being a teacher, I felt like this was a really important topic to capture,” Horowitz said.

Fears about campus safety have become widespread in the 25 years since two senior students opened fire on their classmates at Columbine High School in Colorado. They killed 12 students and one teacher.

Last year, roughly 1 in 4 American teachers reported experiencing a gun-related lockdown at their school. Fifteen percent of respondents said they went through one emergency lockdown, with another 8 percent saying that it happened where they teach more than once.

These numbers tell an important story, Horowitz said. “Especially for high school teachers, this is something that is really top of mind for them.”

High school teachers experience gun-related lockdowns more than any other demographic: 34 percent said they had at least one incident during the previous school year, compared to 22 percent of middle school teachers and 16 percent of elementary school teachers.

Approximately one-third of teachers who work in urban areas said they had a gun-related lockdown during the last school year, compared with 19 percent of those in suburban areas and 20 percent in rural ones.

Teachers in urban schools were the least likely to say that they felt adequately prepared by their school, with only 21 percent saying their school had done a good or excellent job, compared with 32 percent of teachers in suburban districts and 35 percent of teachers in rural ones.

Most of the surveyed teachers pointed at the role mental health care could play in addressing the gun violence crisis. A large majority — 69 percent — said they believed improving mental health screening and treatment for children and adults would be extremely or very effective in preventing school shootings. This emphasis on improving mental health held across party lines, with 73 percent of Democratic teachers and 66 percent of Republican teachers all saying that investment in mental health resources would be an extremely or very effective prevention tool.

Read the full article about teachers worrying about school shootings by Jennifer Gerson at The 19th.