Journal of Community Health

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 234–243 | Cite as

Reducing the Risks of Firearm Violence in High Schools: Principals’ Perceptions and Practices

  • James H. Price
  • Jagdish Khubchandani
  • Erica PaytonEmail author
  • Amy Thompson
Original Paper


This study assessed the perceptions and practices of a national sample of secondary school principals regarding reducing firearm violence in high schools. Data were collected via three-wave postal mailings. A 59-item valid and reliable questionnaire was mailed to a national random sample of 800 secondary school principals. Of the 349 principals (46 %) that responded, 17 % reported a firearm incident at their school in the past 5 years. Principals perceived inadequate parental monitoring (70 %), inadequate mental health services (64 %), peer harassment/bullying (59 %), and easy access to firearms (50 %) as the main causes of firearm violence in schools. The three barriers to implementing firearm violence prevention practices were: lack of expertise as to which practices to implement (33 %), lack of time (30 %), and lack of research as to which practices are most effective (30 %). Less than half of schools trained school personnel regarding firearm violence issues. The findings indicate that firearm incidents at schools may be more common than previously thought. A significant portion of principals are at a loss as to what to implement because of a lack of empirical evidence on what is effective. More research is needed to find the most effective school interventions for reducing firearm violence.


Firearms School violence Guns High schools Principals 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Price
    • 1
  • Jagdish Khubchandani
    • 2
  • Erica Payton
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amy Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health ProfessionsUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and Health ScienceBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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