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(CNN) -- More than half of U.S. teachers believe arming themselves would make students less safe, while one in five say they would be interested in bringing a gun to school, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation.
The survey, which was conducted in October and November 2022, revealed that 54% of teachers believe carrying firearms would make schools less safe, 20% believe gun-carrying programs for teachers would make schools safer, and 26% believe it would make schools any more or less safe.
The report focused on the views of primary and secondary school teachers on safety in their schools, with responses varying according to the race and ethnicity of teachers and students.
According to the survey results, white teachers believe that carrying firearms would make schools safer than their black colleagues, and male teachers in rural schools say they would personally carry a firearm in their school if they were allowed.
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The survey estimates that 550,000 of America's 3 million elementary and secondary school teachers would choose to carry a firearm in school if they were allowed.
The debate over whether to arm the country's teachers is not new and is often reignited after school shootings. However, according to the report, rather than shootings, bullying is the safety issue that worries half of teachers the most.
After bullying, drug use is what worries high school teachers the most, as well as fights between students, according to the report. Secondary teachers consider self-harm to be one of their top concerns, and primary teachers are more concerned about violence against teachers, according to the data.
About half of the teachers surveyed felt that physical security measures in their schools, such as locks, ID cards, cameras and security personnel, positively affected the school climate, according to the report, and only 5% of teachers felt that such security measures had a negative effect.
In another fall 2022 survey, 70 percent of school district officials said they had increased their investments in school safety measures in response to the May 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
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According to the survey, teachers were more concerned about the safety of their students than their own.
After analyzing the survey results, the researchers pointed to some areas ripe for further investigation, such as studying schools or districts that have adopted teacher-carrying gun programs to:
- Observe how they work in practice
- Develop approaches to school safety planning that can balance frequent and lower-level forms of school violence, such as bullying, with extreme and less likely forms of school violence, such as shootings;
And conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of programs that allow teachers to carry guns to see what the total monetary cost to schools and states would be.