'No one wants kids dying in schools,' yet Americans disagree on school safety.

While a large majority of respondents to a recent NPR/Ipsos survey agreed that schools should practice active shooter scenarios, they were split on the best way to do so and whether or not to spend money on additional security.

The poll indicated that parents and the broader public both view gun violence as a major threat to K-12 institutions. However, there is a significant partisan divide in their proposed solutions to the problem.

Democrats are more likely to favor (65% to 38%) investing in social and emotional measures to improve school safety as opposed to expanding security measures. Guidance counselors, anti-bullying initiatives, and better mental health education were popular options among respondents.


When given the choice between increased security measures like metal detectors, bulletproof glass, and transparent bags, Republican voters overwhelmingly preferred the former (60% vs. 30% of Democratic voters).


Active shooter exercises have increased over the past two decades, and this trend holds true regardless of political affiliation. As school shootings have unfortunately become more common and sad, the NPR/Ipsos survey has monitored the growth of the practice.

Curved Arrow

Among those polled, 55% of current K-12 parents said that their schools had conducted active shooter exercises, whereas just 10% could say the same about their own schooling.

Curved Arrow

Parents who had attended school after the April 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two adolescents killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves, made up a tiny fraction of the survey's respondents.

Curved Arrow

Eighty percent or more of Americans agree that active shooter drills in schools should be based on real-world data and tailored to students' ages. As a result, 63% of parents stated they want schools to do at least one annual active shooter simulation for students.

Some school districts around the country choose for a more lifelike simulation, complete with simulated gunfire, the slamming of classroom doors, and even the use of fake blood, during their active shooter exercises.

People were polled about their thoughts on various strategies, including their own parents. "A vast majority of parents, and American adults alike, are in favor of practicing basic lockdown procedures in schools, almost 9 in 10," Newall asserts. "However, as you get into ... the more graphic options, support drops."

"Rather than conceiving of a holistic answer, we have claimed, ‘If we just had more counselors, there would be no more shootings. As in, "'If we just had everybody armed in school, there would be no more shootings.'" She continues, nevertheless, "none of those things are correct."

Her group advocates for a more balanced approach to school safety, saying, "For every dollar you spend on response, you spend equal amounts of time and effort on prevention." She argues that focusing on realistic simulations may be traumatic for children.

She goes on to say that preserving pupils' lives is not just a matter of physical safety, but also of profound emotion. "I never, ever let my children leave the house without saying "I love you" and that's the reason why."

Read on for the latest information.