Ipsos/USA Today Poll: Crime/Gun Violence is Top Concern Among Young People

Only two-thirds of students say they feel safe at school

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC - recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of USA Today finds that some young Americans are increasingly worried about their safety; one in five high school students and 17% of middle school students report not feeling safe at their school. Crime or gun violence is the top issue concern (43%) among this age group, driven by ages 13-17 (53% select crime or gun violence as a top issue concern). The data indicates that parents are also feeling concerned about gun violence in schools, as a vast majority (80%) of those ages 13-17 report having had a serious talk with a parent or guardian about dealing with a gun at school.

When it comes to gun control and ways to prevent school shootings, a strong majority favor requiring schools to have active shooter drills to prepare students and faculty for a mass shooting (82%), banning people who have been treated for mental illness from owning a firearm (75%), and requiring schools to have an armed police officers on site (71%). A plurality of young people oppose teachers being trained and armed with guns and schools (29% support). Despite strong support for some policies aimed to curb gun violence, just half think that tightening gun control laws and background checks will prevent more mass shootings in the U.S.

Young people in this age group are organizing and becoming more politically involved. More than one third (35%) plan to participate in upcoming protests about gun violence and gun control (either in person or via social media). They are also sympathetic to social movements that aim to change the status quo: 43% have favorable views of the #MeToo movement (14% unfavorable), and 40% feel positive toward the March for Our Lives movement (11% unfavorable).

Young people are less confident about political institutions: 59% report that traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like them, and two-thirds (68%) believe that the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and the powerful. The U.S. Congress holds a 2:1 negative rating, and young people have particularly negative perceptions of the Republican leaders who currently hold power on Capitol Hill. Sixty percent have unfavorable views of President Trump, and 41% have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party (compared to 33% who view the Democratic Party unfavorably).

This discontent with American institutions, the economy, and the nation’s leaders has translated into a learned helplessness of the younger generation: While 86% of those in middle school or high school say they plan to go to college, nearly two-thirds (62%) are not sure that they can afford to go to college. Half (50%) of those under age 24 believe that their generation will be worse off than their parents, and one in five (19%) believe that the American Dream is not obtainable for their generation.


About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted March 13-20, 2018, on behalf of USA Today. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,112 young people from ages 13 to 24 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 605 people ages 13 to 17 and 507 18 to 24 years old.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,112, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.9). 

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for those ages 13 to 17 and, plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for those over 18 years old.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can  download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or 
contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025

Mallory Newall
Director, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs

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