I came across a shocking statistic the other day. Did you know that there have been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in late 2012? This number equates to at least one school shooting each week. You may already know this, of course, since the findings went viral on Facebook, Twitter and all the social media-ites even to the point of raising a large amount of criticism.
This article constructively sums up how the advocacy group identified the shocking number – including further categorizing many of the school shootings the group contained in its original analysis. That’s right, seemingly, in an attempt to invalidate the original 74 number, the authors of the article (linked above) actually broke down the so-called “school shootings” into more explanatory groupings like incidents in which the shooter intended to commit mass murder (ex. Sandy Hook, Columbine), incidents related to criminal activity (such as drug dealings and robbery) or personal altercations, and incidents unconnected to the school community and/or occurred after school hours. Cause hey – if someone is shooting and it’s after 4:05pm then it’s okay?!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these authors condone acts of violence, by any means. But something about the way our society is handling this situation, by in some ways excusing the makings of this school shooting statistic or denouncing the validity of its shock factor, sort of makes my blood boil.
I think that one of my greatest strengths (and most annoying weaknesses) is my dedication to self-reflection. I’m constantly self-criticizing, wondering if I handled a situation correctly or picked out the right shirt for the day, etc. I’m also constantly looking towards the future. Like will I probably have kids within the next 6-10 years? Of which, the answer is most likely yes. This figure depends on when the man of my dreams waltzes into my life and agrees to settle down. NBD.
Anyways, now, here is where I get to the problem. And to all the current parents out there, I don’t know how you’ve made it this far with your dignity and composure still in tact. But, my problem is with raising children in a world where I have to be legitimately fearful of an attack at their place of education – where each morning, after I hug my little one at the front door, it is perfectly normal for me to be scared if he/she will walk back through it later that afternoon.
I don’t understand why we are in the situation that we are in now. I don’t understand what goes through the mind of someone who wants to commit mass murder or any acts of violence on a school campus. Is it for the fame and recognition? Is it because they don’t feel understood? Do they think it’s cool in their minds? I don’t know if there are answers to these questions, but I do know that I have learned nothing from the 74-ish school shootings. I don’t remember any of the shooters names, nor do I want to know them. If it’s because he/she(?) felt misunderstood or wanted to be cool, the only thing that I can say is that there are far other, better ways to get your voice heard in this world and far easier ways to be ‘cool.’ There are so many groups and people who can help you find and express your coolness. Trust me.
What I also know is that there is an answer to this problem. I don’t think it’s a simple one to find nor do I think that we know exactly what it is yet. But, we have some pieces to work with – like stricter gun laws, improved mental health care, art therapy, etc. Hey – maybe we can all perform and promote a few extra acts of kindness?
Ideally, this post is about a call to action. It’s about deciding – whether you think the answer is any or none of the pieces I mentioned above – that you will not accept existing in a world where our children are at risk of living another day purely because they stepped foot inside a classroom. It’s about deciding that we might not have all the solutions yet, but that ignoring the shock factor of a once-a-week-school-shooting statistic is not one of them. It’s about deciding that change begins and ends with you, and that waiting for the 75th incident – whether its a mass shooting or a misunderstanding on the playground – is about one statistic too late.
*What do you think? What should we do to prevent school violence in America?
We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one. -Steven Pinker