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Do We Need to Calm Down About School Violence?

shutterstock_52447003It’s been a bad week for violence in the schools, and it’s only Thursday.

Just four days ago, a NV teacher lost his life at the hands of a middle schooler before the student turned the gun on himself, and late Tuesday, the body of a MA math teacher was discovered behind a high school with a 14-year-old student charged in her murder. With haunting memories of Sandy Hook and Columbine on our collective consciousness, it’s hard to accept the fact that violence in the schools is actually pretty rare.

According to NBC News, “An average of 23 youths per year were the victims of homicides at elementary or secondary schools or on the way to a school event, over the years 1992 to 2011, according to the most complete federal study. And those 23 deaths include all kinds of homicides — drug deals gone bad, fights over a girl — in a nation with 130,000 schools and more than 50 million students in grades K-12.”

While logic assures us that an unlawful death statistic of less than 1 percent is comforting, heavy hearts tell us otherwise. Twenty-three young victims are still too many, and once student suicides and teachers and staff are included, the statistic jumps to 45 brutal deaths per year in U.S. schools, according to the same study.

With two incidents of school homicide in less than a week, we’re all asking the same question: is school violence a growing epidemic?

NBC reports, “Federal surveys suggest that school violence has decreased dramatically over the past thirty years. One school-safety consultant who is often called upon by the media, Ken Trump, says no one can be sure, because schools are not required to report violence. Congress in 1990 required colleges, but not elementary and secondary schools, to report crime statistics.” That’s not okay. I don’t care how “rare” incidents of school violence are, recent history has shown that school violence isn’t limited to the Virginia Tech’s of the world. Accurate reporting of school violence among K-12 is required if we are to ever really know for sure. Less than a year after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, what has been done to ensure accurate reporting of school violence, effectively increase safety within our schools, or focus on the mental health of our students? Not much.

Trump told NBC News, “Probably the most disappointing, embarrassing thing that’s occurred since Sandy Hook is that nothing’s occurred. It’s become a gun control vs. gun rights argument. Some of the responses have been absurd — telling elementary school kids to bring in a can of soup to throw at a gunman — and not a damn thing has made it to the front line to help principals.”

Teachers and school administrators answered the call to educate our children; how absolutely tragic that protecting themselves and their students from school violence without resources has become part of their job.

Do we need to calm down about school violence? Hell no. We need to make more noise than ever.

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