I read an article the other day titled Two Killings Do Not a Trend Make: Homicides Remain Rare in Schools. Seems ironic coming on the heels of two homicides in schools in three days, right? Statistically speaking, violence in schools is down from what it was thirty years ago. I think that statistics are valuable tools, especially for those of us who work with numbers. They make a lot of things possible that would not be otherwise. But statistics are not infallible, and they often do not tell the whole story.
Violent incidences in schools do not have to be reported. If they had to report every playground skirmish it would probably use an enormous amount of time and resources, not to mention it would make the school systems look bad. I get that, but it doesn’t mean I think it shouldn’t be required. What that means is that the statistics we have are from federal surveys. The schools can report what they want, which also means they are unreliable. Better than nothing, but definitely not perfect. I don’t disagree that certain types of violence are down in schools. I’m sure there are less fights on the playground than there used to be, because the punishments are more severe and it’s not worth it. But does that mean the schools are safer?
I certainly think that there is a difference between the type of violence that occurs in our world now than 30 years ago. Parents may have worried about fist fights, maybe they didn’t have to worry for their kids’ safety at all, but they certainly weren’t worried about someone coming in and shooting a classroom full of 6 year-olds. Because back then, it really was a rare occurrence.
Here’s some more statistics. The first mass shooting on record (defined as killing 12 or more people), was in 1949. It took 50 years for five more to occur, that’s a long time. The most recent 7 of the 13 total have occurred in the past six years. 4 of the 13 have occurred at schools (this includes universities). There are others, with less fatalities as well.
This is why I’m sometimes afraid of sending my kids to school. I realize that these incidences don’t happen everyday, which is why I still send my kid to school everyday. Living in fear of what could happen isn’t good for them. But the fact is, this horrific type of violence does happen, when before 1999 it didn’t.
So what do we, as parents, do about it? Hug our children tightly, love them with all we have, and get them help if they need it. Other than that, I haven’t the slightest idea.