Trend Watching: What People Are Thinking About the Causes of School Violence

A Critical Concerns Post

Every time it happens, I feel sick to my stomach. Every time it happens, I think and pray for those people who are far removed from me geographically, but so close emotionally. More on school violence in a minute.

There are several trend watching, research taking, polling, and data collecting organizations I follow. One of the big ones is Gallup, or the Gallup Group, or the Gallup Poll.

And I also really like Barna Trends, which also concentrates strongly on researching trends in the ways Christians are leaning. What are Christians thinking about cultural issues? While it is a year old, Barna Trends 2018 is full of great insights and perspectives. Not only do the researchers indicate what people are thinking on issues, they also provide some interpretive commentary throughout the book.

When it comes to the causes of school violence (certainly a significant issue in our society today) here is how we are thinking about the topic. The most common selected causes of school violence are:

Difficult family situations – 51%
Undiagnosed and untreated mental health illness – 43%
Easy access to guns – 40%
Violence in video games – 27%
Violence on TV – 22%
Lack of religion in school – 20%

Please note, these statistics do NOT say these are the actual causes of violence in school. These stats are what the general population thinks causes violence in schools. (By the way, notice that Pennsylvania is in the top ten of worst states for school violence!)

If you look at generational opinions, the older populations have a higher estimation of violence in video games and on TV as a cause of school violence.

Evangelicals, as a group, have a much higher estimation of the lack of religion as a cause of violence. For evangelicals that is the number two reason.

Republicans tend to give more weight to lack of religion, while Democrats lean toward easy access to guns. Both groups are the same when it comes to the family situation and mental health issues as sources of violence.

School violence is one of the wicked problems of our culture. The closer to one’s home it happens the more urgency the issue has. Wicked problems require many components to address the issue. No one answer is sufficient. But many responses will help us deal with these tragedies.

Pastor Brian

P.S. And by the way, this post is not even addressing the problem of bullying – which is extraordinarily frequent.


Brian Rice