The idea of arming teachers is less popular than other approaches

ST. LEO, FL – Results of a recent survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found that a strong majority of those polled favor training in mental health and child-adolescent development for the public safety professionals who are called to respond to incidents of violence at schools and college campuses.

Anti-bullying programs are also considered by the majority of those surveyed an important violence-prevention strategy. Almost as many people favor the presence of armed officers on campuses while students are present.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute, based in Florida at Saint Leo University, surveys Americans and residents of its home state of Florida on topics of vital public interest, politics, Pope Francis, and other topics. The most recent survey was conducted from August 10 through August 16, 2018, with opinions collected from 1,000 adults nationwide. The margin of error for results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. A parallel sample of 500 adults in Florida was surveyed with the same questions at the same time. Florida findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

With the start of the school year approaching, the polling institute tested opinions on four different ideas for enhancing safety levels at colleges and K-12 public schools. Respondents were presented with test statements and asked to indicate whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree. Detailed results follow.

The first topic was teachers and professors and firearms.

Test statement: Students in colleges and public K-12 schools would be safer if select/trained teachers or professors carried firearms. National % Florida %
Strongly agree 27.8 28.4
Somewhat agree 21.7 21.0
Combined levels of agreement 49.5 49.4
Somewhat disagree 15.8 14.4
Strongly disagree 27.1 28.4
Combined levels of disagreement 42.9 42.8
Unsure   7.6   7.8


The second topic concerns armed officers on campuses.

Test statement: K-12 school and college campuses should have trained and armed officers on duty while students are present. National % Florida %
Strongly agree 37.3 46.6
Somewhat agree 39.0 35.8
Combined levels of agreement 76.3 82.4
Somewhat disagree 11.1   5.8
Strongly disagree   6.4   5.4
Combined levels of disagreement 17.5 11.2
Unsure   6.2   6.4


The third statement is about anti-bullying programs.

Test statement: Anti-bullying programs are an important part of K-12 school and campus violence prevention strategies. National % Florida %
Strongly agree 55.6 60.0
Somewhat agree 28.3 25.6
Combined levels of agreement 83.9 85.6
Somewhat disagree   8.3   7.4
Strongly disagree   2.6   1.8
Combined levels of disagreement 10.9   9.2
Unsure   5.2   5.2


The fourth idea to be tested concerns mental health and other training for officers.

Test statement: Police and school resource officers, responding to K-12 school and campus violence, should be required to complete training in mental health and child adolescent development. National % Florida %
Strongly agree 51.8 54.8
Somewhat agree 32.6 27.4
Combined level of agreement 84.4 82.2
Somewhat disagree   6.2 7.4
Strongly disagree   3.0 3.4
Combined level of disagreement   9.2 10.8
Unsure   6.4 7.0


A member of the psychology faculty and Saint Leo and member of the polling institute, Christopher Wolfe, PhD, reviewed the results and compared the agreement levels earned by the various test statements. “The majority of those surveyed believe more effort and focus should be placed on anti-violence/bullying programs in schools, and that responding officers and school personnel should have additional training in how to respond appropriately to children and teens in these intense settings,” he noted.

Wolfe further observed that within society greater recognition is taking place about “mental health issues and the stigma that they come with,” and added that the illnesses constitute what he calls an “everybody problem.” This, he said, is because “Thirty percent of Americans are said to suffer from a mental illness at any given moment. It is important to understand that number is not static. Individuals may ‘fall in’ and out of the group at any point in their lives.”

About the Poll
METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 respondents nationwide. The survey was conducted August 10 through August 16, 2018. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis) with questions asked of all 1,000. The same poll sampled opinions of 500 respondents in Florida during the same time period. The Florida poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).
Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

More About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.