Safety concerns continue to climb: 54% of Americans say it is a priority

Aug 9, 2023

3 min

Eric Spacek, J.D.

Church Mutual® survey finds interest for armed security at schools, worship facilities, as well as community and nonprofit organizations


MERRILL, Wis. – As the summer vacation season winds down and routine schedules and activities resume, safety remains a top concern for Americans. In its new Risk Radar Report – Safety in America, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)1, an insurer of nonprofit organizations, schools, camps and houses of worship, found more than half of Americans (54%) say their top safety concern while attending religious services or community, nonprofit and school events, is an armed intruder or physical violence incident. Since 2019, armed intruders and physical violence have increased as a top safety concern (10%) for Americans.


“We have been asking Americans about their safety concerns for several years. Except for 2021, when the top concern was understandably the COVID-19 pandemic, armed intruders and physical violence have continued to take top billing,” said Eric Spacek, assistant vice president – Risk Control at Church Mutual. “With 38% of Americans saying they feel less safe, we are seeing greater interest and support for armed security and other safety measures organizations need to carefully consider and prepare for before adopting.”


Armed Security

Risk Radar Report – Safety in America uncovered a desire for protection:

  • Armed security (56%), security cameras (59%), metal detectors (47%) and incident training (45%) are favored safety measures. According to survey respondents, these measures are warranted if there has been a previous threat (56%); previous incident (53%); there is demand from staff/volunteers, parents or congregants (52%); or the organization is in a high-crime location (51%).
  • Respondents feel armed security on-site at houses of worship, schools or at nonprofit or community events should be trained police officers (72%).
  • Three-quarters of respondents say they would feel safer having armed security at school and community events. However, Gen Z is less likely than other age groups to feel safer with armed security present at events.


There are many factors organizations should carefully think through before implementing armed security. Armed security considerations include understanding insurance policy and coverage limitations and options for armed security; developing a written security plan and policies and procedures for the organization; training staff and volunteers; conducting background checks on security team members; determining weapons usage policy; and local or state laws.


When it comes to preparing for armed intruders, most Americans feel there is much room for improvement. Only 27% of respondents say their house of worship, nonprofit or community group, or school is prepared for the possibility of an armed intruder. Half of respondents (50%) believe these organizations are not prepared.


“Recent security incidents in our country have Americans thinking twice about their activities. Gen X (40%), millennials (43%) and Gen Z (55%) respondents are more likely than baby boomers (27%) to be discouraged from attending community, nonprofit and school events, and religious services because of these incidents,” adds Spacek.


Additional safety resources can be found at: Armed intruder preparedness (churchmutual.com).


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About Risk Radar Report

Safety in America is the latest in Church Mutual’s Risk Radar initiative that uses proprietary, primary research to gather key, forward-looking insights for nonprofits, schools, camps, and houses of worship, helping them maximize opportunities and minimize risk. Risk Radar Report – Safety in America surveyed 1,010 Americans (18+).


About Church Mutual

Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., founded in 1897, offers specialized insurance for religious organizations of all denominations, public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, senior living facilities, secular and non-secular camps and conference centers, and nonprofit and human services organizations throughout the United States. To learn more, visit churchmutual.com.


1Church Mutual is a stock insurer whose policyholders are members of the parent mutual holding company formed on 1/1/20. S.I. = a stock insurer.


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Eric Spacek, J.D.

Eric Spacek, J.D.

Assistant Vice President - Risk Control

Eric Offers Insight into Risk Management and Crisis Response Protocols for Houses of Worship and Other Facilities.

Inclement Weather PreparednessLoss PreventionLoss ControlRisk ManagementArmed Intruder Preparation and Prevention

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