Tragedy garners media attention. The masses like to rubber neck and media outlets are happy to oblige them. Unfortunately, knee jerk, irrational “solutions” come more quickly and are voiced more loudly than true causation and an understanding of real problems and statistics.

Emotion is easier than math.

Monitored over a ten year period, an average of 29 children are killed in school bus-related pedestrian accidents – that is, struck while getting on or off a school bus – every year. An additional six children per year are killed as school bus passengers.

Source: School Bus Information Clearinghouse (SBIC)
National Statistics

That’s an average of 35 children killed every year traveling via school bus. Statistically, school buses remain the safest mode of transportation for children as it only accounts for two percent of all children killed traveling to and from school. Each year, approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during normal school travel hours. About 2% of these deaths occur on school buses, while 74% occur in private passenger vehicles. Approximately 22% are bicycle or pedestrian accidents.

Source: Safe Routes to School National Partnership
National Statistics on School Transportation

Contrast this to the number of kids killed due to school shootings. Despite the high amount of media attention these incidents receive, in 1998, the year of the Columbine shooting, 35 kids were killed in school shootings – the same number that, on average, are killed using the safest known method of transportation.

In short, a child is 22 times more likely to be killed traveling to and from school than in a school shooting.

But we need to do something! Fair enough. Let’s do something that might actually work. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a Pulitzer Prize nominated author and West Point psychology professor, compares the problem of school shootings to fire drills, noting that not one kid has been killed at school due to a fire. The reason is we have a better education system in place. Fire making materials have not been banned. Instead, a better reaction to the problem was implemented.

Teachers and students conduct fire drills and know what to do in the event of one. We don’t currently have an equivalent drill for teachers and students in the event of an active shooter. The real enemy is denial.

Read Grossman’s approach here:

Due to emotion rather than fact, school shootings receive attention far out of proportion to the actual risk they pose. People admonishing everyone to think about the children would be doing a far greater service focusing on automobile, bicycle, sports, and swimming safety than this. Here are the numbers: