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2018 has been deadlier for schoolchildren than service members

Students are emotional as they gather by the Barnett Intermediate School where parents  gathered to pick up their children following a shooting at Santa Fe High School on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.  (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Students are emotional as they gather by the Barnett Intermediate School where parents gathered to pick up their children following a shooting at Santa Fe High School on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The school shooting near Houston on Friday bolstered a stunning statistic: More people have been killed at schools this year than have been killed while serving in the military.

Initial estimates put the number killed at Santa Fe High School at eight. (The death toll has since risen to 10.) The Washington Post compared that to figures for the military compiled from Defense Department news releases, including both combat and noncombat deaths. Even excluding non-students who died in school shootings (for example, teachers) the total still exceeds military casualties.

From Jan. 1 through May 18, there were 29 fatalities in 16 school shootings.

So far in 2018, there have been 13 service member fatalities in seven incidents. Seven of those casualties occurred in a helicopter crash in Iraq in March. Three of the total number of military casualties were not related to combat.

The higher number of deaths in school shootings is not usually the case. In 2017, the number of fatalities among service members was far higher than the number of people killed in school shootings, according to The Washington Post data.

A large part of the 2018 school fatalities was the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14.



The figures for 2018 do not suggest schools are more dangerous than combat zones. After all, there are more than 50 million students in public elementary and high schools and only about 1.3 million members of the armed forces.

That said, it is still the case that 2018 is shaping up to be unusually deadly at schools. Comparing the number of deaths and the number of shooting incidents this year directly with those through May 18 of 2017, that difference is stark.

In fact, there were 36 fatalities in school shootings in total through May 18 of each year from 2000 to 2017 — only slightly more than there have been in 2018 alone.

Without the shootings in Florida and Texas, the figure is substantially lower. In 2000 through 2017, there were an average of two deaths in five or six school shootings through this point in each year. Without Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Santa Fe, the totals in 2018 would be four deaths in 14 incidents.









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