After Newtown Shooting, Parents Remain Concerned About School Safety

One-third of parents said they feared for their children's safety, up from 25 percent a year ago.

Nearly nine months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, parents are still concerned about school safety.
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Nearly nine months after the school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., parents' concerns about school safety have not eased, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.

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Immediately following the December 2012 mass shooting that killed six teachers and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 33 percent of parents said they feared for their children's physical safety. As students return for classes this week, the same number of parents report that concern, up from 25 percent at the start of the 2012-13 school year.

"The beginning of the school year is a time of hope and optimism for parents and children as students open a new chapter in their education," a report on the poll says. "But for many parents, the school year also brings a sense of trepidation about their children's safety as a result of the series of school shootings over the past 15 years."

Past polls show parents' concerns typically increase following a violent incident in schools. Parents who said they feared for their children's safety reached a high of 55 percent immediately after the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999 and remained high until around 2001 when several other shootings took place around the country.

By comparison, today's safety concerns are a middle ground between the early 2000s and lows from 2004 to 2008.

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"Perhaps one reason parents' level of concern is lower in the aftermath of Newtown than in the aftermath of Columbine is that Americans may be a bit more accustomed to hearing about similar tragedies today than at the turn of the century," the report says.

In the weeks following the Sandy Hook massacre, debate about gun control became a heated topic around the country.

In January, Vice President Joe Biden recommended 23 executive actions as a part of President Barack Obama's gun violence reduction plan. On Thursday, Obama unveiled two more executive actions that significantly reduce the import of military surplus firearms and close a loophole that allows felons and others prohibited from owning guns to get around background checks by registering guns to corporations.

Since the Senate confirmed Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on July 31, the administration has completed or made significant progress on 22 of the 23 executive actions Biden put forth.

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