Meanwhile, when it comes to what can be done to prevent this kind of violence, far more teens view proposals focused on mental illness, assault-style weapon bans and the use of metal detectors in schools as potentially effective than say the same about allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools.
The surveys of teens and parents were conducted in March and April 2018, following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history. Seventeen people were killed in the attack and more than a dozen others were injured. The surveys also come as the nation prepares to mark the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Overall, 57% of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, with one-in-four saying they are very worried. About three-in-ten (29%) say they are not too worried about this, and just 13% say they are not at all worried.
Nonwhite teens express a higher level of concern than their white peers. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of nonwhite teens, including 73% of Hispanics, say they are at least somewhat worried about this, compared with 51% of white teens.
School shooting fears differ by gender as well: 64% of girls say they are very or somewhat worried about a shooting happening at their school, compared with 51% of boys.
Some policies seen as more effective than others
By contrast, a much smaller share of teens (39%) say that allowing teachers to carry guns in schools would be very or somewhat effective at preventing school shootings; 35% of teens say this would be not at all effective.
Views on the effectiveness of banning assault-style weapons also differ by race and ethnicity. About eight-in-ten black teens (80%) and Hispanic teens (79%) say this would be at least somewhat effective; a smaller share of white teens say the same (59%). And while teens across racial and ethnic groups are about equally likely to see metal detectors as effective, black teens are far more likely than their white and Hispanic counterparts to say this would be very effective (59% vs. 39% and 41%, respectively).
Partisan divide among adults
Teens’ views on proposals to prevent school shootings mirror those of the general public, for the most part.
About eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (78%) say that allowing teachers to carry guns in schools would be very or somewhat effective at preventing school shootings, compared with just 24% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Democrats, on the other hand, are far more likely than Republicans to say that banning assault-style weapons would be at least somewhat effective (81% vs. 35%).
But there are some points of partisan agreement – substantial majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say that proposals directed at mental illness and having metal detectors in schools have the potential to be at least somewhat effective in preventing school shootings.
Correction: In a previous version of this post, the charts and topline gave an incorrect end date for the period during which parents and teens were surveyed. The survey ended April 10.