Violent crimes in schools haven’t gotten worse, they’ve only gotten more attention, which is a step in the right direction.
From third graders bringing handguns to class for protection to teens opening fire on a crowd of students they were having issues with, students are using violence and guns to solve their problems.
A teenager at a suburban Cleveland high school opened fire on a group of students, ultimately killing three and injuring two others on Feb. 27.
While reading the many accounts on the Internet, and as the mother of two teens, I had déjà vu.
Violence occurs in schools so frequently, that it seems to take a high body count or something freakish for us to pay attention. We’ve seen it all. We’ve become a calloused and desensitized nation.
But we wept for children we didn’t know in 1999 when two misguided young men at Columbine laid siege to their high school. They killed 12 students and one teacher and wounded 21 others before killing themselves. I can still picture the parents and friends of the dead weeping inconsolably on the television.
We learned about those students who died. They weren’t just nameless faces, they became people we knew.
It made us realize what happened at Columbine could happen anywhere, even to our children in our schools.
Though there have been other, deadlier school tragedies since Columbine, such as the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, it seems that everything else pales in comparison to the heartbreak at Columbine.
The most recent data collected by the School Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study was from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. During that period there were 33 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States.
After a tragedy like Columbine you might think that nothing so horrendous would ever happen again, yet the violence continues.
Since the shooters were bullied, the event spawned campaigns against bullying.
In a study the Secret Service conducted a year after Columbine, they found that of 37 school shooters up to that time, roughly two-thirds had suffered from some sort of bullying.
But blame was pointed in every direction after Columbine.
Music, violent films, teen use of anti-depressants and violent video games were among the scrutinized culprits.
Video games already had a rating system in place for five years before the “Doom” video game players went “Mortal Kombat” on their classmates. Movies and music had rating systems long before that.
“Dark” bands like Rammstein and Marilyn Manson were especially ripped apart in headlines as devil worshippers.
Our family has never committed a violent crime and we love those bands.
There have always been bullies. There have always been mind-boggling, senseless crimes with and without guns.
In fact, one of the top four massacres at a school took place in 1929 when a disgruntled school board member blew up an elementary school in Michigan. He was upset about losing his farm. This was long before video games and death metal.
I am often reminded of Manson’s quote on Columbine, “This tragedy was a product of ignorance, hatred and an access to guns.”
We need to continue to pay attention and educate. Ignorance is not bliss; it’s a massacre waiting to happen.