How Community Coalitions Can Help Prevent School Shootings

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In the wake of the tremendous amount of gun violence on school campuses, many neighborhoods and communities have developed community coalitions to raise awareness about their factors and how to prevent school shootings. These coalitions strive to introduce critical connectivity and resources for students and parents who may be struggling with accessing support. 

Yet, building a strong community coalition is not always easy. Other community members may fail to see the need or use for such organizations or are embroiled in their own struggles to work with their students or schools. Nonetheless, coalitions remain a potent tool to help a community thrive by addressing specific problems or issues. Here are three reasons why community coalitions can help prevent school shootings. 

A community coalition is an organized group of community members who come together to achieve a common goal. When it comes to preventing tragedies, coalitions play an especially important role. Here are a few specific ways coalitions can help prevent these kinds of events:

1. Develop Resources to Combat Myths and Stereotypes

There are many misconceptions about school shootings and those who perpetrate them. For example, the media often portrays the school shooter as a male social outcast with social and family problems, who has become radicalized through contacts on the internet. However, the United States Secret Service notes that this is untrue and that no profile exists for a student attacker – they have been loners and popular kids, male and female, A-students and those who were struggling academically. [1]

Likewise, the latest research on media coverage of school shootings shows that such events not only advance these stereotypes but actively give a disproportionate amount of coverage to these events. [2] As a result, communities may be awash in misconceptions about school tragedies, and who is at risk for falling prey to the circumstances which may lead him or her to become a student attacker. 

Community coalitions can work together to combat these myths and stereotypes. By educating communities, teachers, parents, and students about the root causes of these shootings, it is easier to spot the circumstances which may lead to one. 

2. Create Opportunities for Student Engagement

In a study on the causes of school shootings, Wike and Fraser (2009) identified student engagement in school and the wider community as one of the key factors which successfully prevented a tragedy. In their study, they noted that no school attacker has ever demonstrated attachment to his or her community or school. [3]

Knowing this, community coalitions can work to create opportunities for student engagement both at school and in the greater community. They can work with schools to develop programs that connect the learning experience to the wider community, such as in the form of volunteering or fundraising. In turn, this can help students foster an improved sense of attachment and connectivity to the people and places around them. 

One such program is Bring Change 2 Mind, which was created to help erase the stigma around mental illness by increasing awareness and education, fostering student empowerment, building mentoring opportunities, and encouraging youth to challenge the misconceptions that so commonly surround mental health conditions. 

3. Provide Support for Students Who Need Help

Community coalitions are in a prime position to step in to provide support for students whose schools themselves may not be able to provide. With public schools routinely stretched thin, community coalitions such as those created by healthcare professionals can provide much-needed services, especially when it comes to mental health.  

A study on the collaboration between community mental health professionals and public schools found that school counselors overwhelmingly welcomed support from community members to provide critical support for students. This support can be in the form of monetary resources for after-school activities, or it could be something more direct as a collaborative partnership with mental health agencies in the area. [4] According to the study, when these resources were available, schools saw a dramatic decline in student mental health crises and an increase in the utilization of available resources.

Building Bonds and Community With Coalitions

Community coalitions are one way in which a community can come together to prevent school shootings and violence. By empowering schools and students with resources that are already available in the wider community, coalitions can help reduce many of the root causes which provoke school attackers to act. 

Tragedies like school shootings are impossible to predict so having a coalition working toward student engagement can be seen as a protective factor for the community at large and one extra tool that goes into a complete school safety strategy. 

Are you interested in building a strong coalition within your community? Get off to the right start with insights into what your community needs. Pride Surveys has over 30 years of experience conducting surveys in schools and communities. Contact us today


[1] “Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model” retrieved 6 October 2019 at

[2] “Mass School Shootings in the United States: A Novel Root Cause Analysis Using Lay Press Reports” retrieved 6 October 2019 at

[3] “School Shootings: Making Sense of the Senseless” retrieved 6 October 2019 at

[4] “Collaborative Relationships: School Counselors and Non-School Mental Health Professionals Working Together to Improve the Mental Health Needs of Students” retrieved 6 October 2019 at


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