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How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?
We should know. But we don’t.
This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.
The article goes on to state the following:
But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.
We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.
In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.
“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.
NPR reported that in some instances of reported “school shootings,” it has been simply a mistake in coding. Other examples were provided:
Ray Poole, the chief of legal services for the Nassau County School District in Florida, told us that at one school where a shooting was reported, Callahan Middle School, on Nov. 21, 2015, a Saturday, a student took a picture of himself at home holding a gun and posted it to social media. “We got wind of it and nipped it in the bud.” No shooting.
The CRDC shows seven shootings in DeKalb County, Ga. Police reports provided to us by that district give a sense of more of the many, many ways the data collection may have gone wrong.
At Redan Middle School, there is a report of a toy cap gun fired on a school bus — not a shooting.
CICK HERE to read more of this exclusive report from National Public Radio.
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The federal government said schools reported 235 shootings in one school year.
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) August 28, 2018
The Department of Education Wildly Overestimates the Number of School Shootings https://t.co/JmxvrtquZX
— NR Institute (@NR_Institute) August 29, 2018
Today in bogus school shooting statistics: “NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened.” https://t.co/xAfcu18jtV
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) August 28, 2018