What Americans say about…

Additional measures

While other initiatives garner wide support, there’s variation in the extent and strength of sentiment.

Ninety-two percent of Republicans support armed police in the school, for example, and 57% do so strongly. That compares with 75% of Democrats and 73% of independents, four in 10 strongly. Strong support for police in schools is 19 points higher among those without college degrees than those with them, 55% vs. 36% and 18 points higher among Southerners compared with those living elsewhere, 60% vs. 42%.

Metal detectors are a more popular option among noncollege-educated, nonwhite, and lower-income parents, with eight in 10 or more backing them, half or more doing so strongly. More Democrats support metal detectors than independents, 80% vs. 63%; Republicans fall in between at 75%.

Mental health screening of all students, by contrast, is supported by three-quarters to eight in 10 of nearly all groups. Hispanic parents stand out as particularly strong advocates, with 62% strongly for it, compared with three in 10 blacks and whites alike.

Some public schools have already moved toward implementing policies in these areas. According to a report in March by the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2015-16 school year, half of public schools provided staff training on recognizing students with potential mental health issues or tendencies to exhibit violent behavior, and about one-third of high schools had a law enforcement officer present on campus during all school hours. Just 6% of high schools required students to pass through metal detectors every day when entering school.

For more on the PDK poll's findings on school security:

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