Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.

‘Hardening’ Schools Doesn’t Work

Gun violence in schools continues to rise despite steady increases in security and law enforcement staffing, data shows.
Published: June 15, 2022

Proposals to ‘harden’ public K–12 schools overlook clear evidence that these approaches fail to reduce gunfire incidents. 

A comprehensive review of the research published between 2000 and 2018 concluded that “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to harden schools.”

Nonetheless, it found, “None of the currently employed school firearm violence prevention methods have empirical evidence to show that they actually diminish firearm violence in schools.”

A look at current data reveals a hard truth: the number of gunfire incidents at public K–12 schools is much higher now than it was only a few years ago.

At the same time, school security staffing has steadily increased, providing further evidence that ‘hardening’ policies do not have the intended effect of keeping students and educators safe from gun violence.

Furthermore, schools that have had gunfire incidents are more likely to have had security staff: in the two school years with available school-level security staffing data, two-thirds of schools with incidents had security guards or sworn law enforcement officers compared to only one-third of K–12 schools overall.*


Secrurity Staffing

* Based on an analysis of the two school years, 2015-16 and 2017-18, with available Office of Civil Rights Data Collection school-level data on security staffing. In 2015-16, 33 percent of all public K–12 schools had guards or officers compared to 69 percent of schools with gunfire incidents. In 2017-18, the difference was 35 percent to 65 percent.

Are you an affiliate?

Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.
elementary students drawing a mural of school

Ensuring Safe School Communities

NEA remains committed to ending gun violence in our nation’s public schools and communities. Access our resources to support the mental health of students and educators, cope with crisis, and advocate for safer schools.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.