A Third of Americans Avoid Certain Places Because They Fear Mass Shootings

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A third of U.S. adults are so stressed by the prospect of mass shootings that they avoid visiting certain places or attending certain events, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Harris Poll.

The survey, released shortly after a pair of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas left 31 people dead in the course of one weekend, found that an overwhelming majority of American adults—79% — experience some amount of stress related to mass shootings. A third of the 2,000 respondents said that fear was so great they avoid going to certain places or events, and almost a quarter said they’ve changed their lives due to fear of mass shootings.

Public events, malls, schools and movie theaters were the places or occasions that most commonly sparked fears of a shooting, according to the survey. U.S. mass shootings have occurred in each of these locations in recent memory. This year alone, mass shootings have occurred in a bank, a college, a warehouse, a municipal center, an apartment, a food festival, a Walmart and a downtown district.

Almost a third of Hispanic adults, compared to 15% of white adults, said they experience stress “often or constantly” as a result of mass shootings, while 60% of black Americans, 50% of Hispanic Americans and 41% of white Americans said they think they or someone they know will be the victim of such violence. The suspect behind the recent shooting in El Paso specifically said he was targeting “Mexicans.”

Women were also more likely than men to report stress associated with mass gun violence (85%, compared to 71%), and 62% of parents said they “live in fear” of their children becoming victims of a mass shooting. Prior APA research shows that feeling is mutual. In a 2018 survey, 75% of Gen Z respondents called mass shootings a significant source of stress. Education Week, which tracked school shootings last year, tallied 24 that resulted in injuries or deaths in 2018.

Parents can help kids who may be struggling with anxiety due to violence by following these tips; adults can follow these suggestions from the APA, or consult a mental health provider for additional help.