Built Environment Attributes and Preparedness for Potential Gun Violence at Secondary Schools


Characterizing built or physical environment risk factors for gun violence in and around K-12 schools is an emerging, complex childrens environmental health need. We used data on New Jersey high schools on gun violence-related preventive practices and school (building and facility) environmental controls in place in fall 2019. We assimilated publicly available secondary data from state education agencies, school websites, and Google Maps to identify aspects of high school indoor and outdoor built environments, including fields, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and athletic fields and types of seating. We analyzed statewide data and stratified by county, region, and urban/nonurban locale. Results identified deficient environmental aspects of schools; however, if addressed, then more effective responses to active shooter scenarios could occur. These deficits included unmonitored entrances, security systems with missing cameras, hidden stairwells, and dense foliage around school buildings. Our research was also relevant to the scope of practice and services highlighted by the recent Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision, and Emerging Roles in Environmental Health (UNCOVER EH) initiative. Future research can help inform local emergency preparedness, response efforts, and school priorities for design, operations, and maintenance.

Speaker / Author: 
Juhi Aggarwal, MPH, Rutgers School of Public Health
Erika S. Eitland, MPH, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Lauren N. Gonzalez, MA, Rutgers School of Public Health
Maryanne L. Fakeh Campbell, Rutgers School of Public Health
Patricia Greenberg, MS, Rutgers Biostatistics and Epidemiology Services Center, Rutgers School of Public
Elizabeth Kaplun, MPH, Rutgers School of Public Health;
Sarah Sahili, MPH, Rutgers School of Public Health
Koshy Koshy, MS, PhD, Rutgers School of Public Health
Sonali Rajan, EdD, Columbia University
Derek G. Shendell, MPH, D.Env, Rutgers School of Public Health
Month Year: 
November 2021
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
November 2021
EH Topics: