Friday, January 4, 2013

School Shootings: What Are The Odds, Part III

In Part I of this series, I estimated the likelihood of a school shooting taking place at a particular US school in any given year. In Part II, I estimated the likelihood of at least one school shooting taking place at any school in the US in any given year.

In Part III, I will attempt to calculate the odds of a particular US student being shot and/or shot and killed in a school shooting in any given year. Here are the numbers:

In the last 13 years, there have been roughly 55.5 million students in K-12 schools in America each year (including public and private schools). This number comes from the 2011 census estimates. As the US population has grown in the last decade, it is likely 55.5 million is a bit of an overestimate for the earlier years. Using this number will then slightly underestimate the odds of a shooting or killing.

Following are the numbers of students who have been wounded or killed in school shootings in the US in the last 13 years (note: more people than this have died in US school shootings, but I am only focusing on students, not administrators/teachers. I am also excluding the killers):

Data from
There are roughly 38.8 million students in US K-8 schools and 16.4 million US students in 9-12 schools (exact numbers at Using the appropriate weighting, the average risk of a particular US student being shot at school in any given year is as follows:

Student of any age: 1 in 7.8 million
K-8 Student:            1 in 14.4 million
9-12 Student:           1 in 3.7 million

The average risk of a particular US student being shot and killed at school in any given year is as follows:

Student of any age: 1 in 15 million
K-8 Student:            1 in 18 million
9-12 Student:           1 in 10.6 million

As always, these odds are merely estimates based on readily available statistics. In no way are they completely accurate. What they indicate, however, is it is extremely unlikely that any one particular student will get shot while at school in a particular year.

But, keep this in mind: Even though your child probably won't get shot, the chances of someone's child getting shot at school in the next year is extremely high (around 85-90%).

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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