Four other incidents of school shootings were recorded in 1998, in Edinboro, Pennsylvania; Fayetteville, Tennessee; Springfield, Oregon; and Richmond, Virginia. The deadliest recorded school shooting until 2007 took place the following April in Littleton, Colorado, when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold had plotted for a year to kill 500 people and blow up Columbine High School. At the end of their hour-long rampage, 12 students and a teacher were dead and an additional 23 people were seriously injured. Klebold and Harris then turned the guns on themselves, effectively ending any hopes of determining definitively what caused them to engage in such unthinkable behavior. Speculation was rife and law enforcement officials suggested that indications of what Klebold and Harris were plotting had existed prior to the attack. Klebold had written a graphic story about slaughtering preppy students as well as a detailed paper about Charles Manson. Harris, in addition to writing about Nazis and guns in schools, made notes about killing in a massacre “to-do” list, including such things as reminders to obtain gas cans, nails, and duff el bags. Further notes and diaries found after their deaths described instances of bullying victimization at school and repeated expressions of rage, hatred, and resentment.
In light of the widespread coverage in the popular media of these high-profile incidents of school violence, the Justice Policy Institute examined data gathered from an earlier study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and concluded that the likelihood of children becoming victims of school-based violence was as minute as “one in two million” (Olweus 1993). The following month, President Clinton addressed Americans and asserted that “the overwhelming majority of our schools are, in fact, safe” (CNN 1998), a comment reiterated by Attorney General Janet Reno and Education Secretary Richard W. Riley in the report titled Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools (Dwyer, Osher, and Warger 1998). Subsequent administrations have essentially reiterated such views.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006).
Physical dating violence among high school students–United States, 2003. MMWR,
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Duke, N. N., Pettingell, S. L., McMorris, B. J., and
Borowsky, I. W. (2010). Adolescent violence perpetration: Associations with multiple types of adverse childhood experiences. Pediatrics, 124(4),
Data on this issue come primarily from the 2008, 2011, and 2014 National Surveys of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), the first nationally representative survey on these topics. Youth ages ten and older were interviewed directly; for children younger than 10, interviews were conducted with their adult caregivers. The survey’s sponsors believe the data likely understate children’s actual exposure to violence, because they rely on family members to report incidents, some of which may be undisclosed, minimized, or not recalled.
In Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2009, the 12th installment of a series of annual reports jointly compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, data are presented suggesting that students may actually be better protected against the potentiality of violent crime victimization at school than away from it. The report analyzes the incidence of violent deaths at school (defined as a self- or other-inflicted death occurring on the school grounds) as well as nonfatal student victimization. Violent deaths for children between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age were determined to have declined from 30 to 21 between the 2006 –2007 and 2007–2008 school years. During the 2006 –2007 academic year (the latest year for which complete data are available), 8 suicides were recorded among school-aged youth, which statisticians have calculated translates into less than one suicide per million students. During that same school year, 1,748 children within the same age range were victims of homicide and 1,296 committed suicide away from school. The conclusion to be drawn is that youth were nearly 60 times more likely to be murdered and 160 times more likely to commit suicide away from school than at school (National Center for Education Statistics 2009).
Children exposed to violence are more likely than those not experiencing violence to become victims or perpetrators of further violence.,
Victims of dating violence are considerably more likely to engage in sexual activity and other risky behaviors (binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fights) than are non-victims.
However, even multiple types of direct victimization within a single year are not uncommon.
Johnson, the author of Reducing School Violence states, “To eliminate violence and resolve destructive conflicts, schools must first admit that such conflicts are out of control.” (Johnson 7) Schools in general must identify with these issues in order to deal with th...
In addition to violent incidents in which students were killed, the Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2009 report also measured the incidence and frequency of nonfatal violent victimizations of students, including such offenses as rape, sexual assaults, robbery, and aggravated assault. The authors determined that in each survey year between 1992 and 2007, students reported lower rates of serious violent victimization at school than away from school. Approximately 118,000 students were victims of serious violent crimes at school in 2007 as compared with nearly 164,000 serious violent crime victimizations away from school. Taken as a rate, this figure suggests that 4 students between the ages of 12 and 18 years out of every 1,000 were victims of serious violent crimes at school during this time period, compared with approximately 6 students out of every 1,000 who were victimized away from school. In previous years the ratio was even more dramatic (for example, 8 per 1,000 at school versus 24 per 1,000 away from school in 1997). Less than 1 percent of school-aged children reported serious violent crime victimization within the previous six months (National Center for Education Statistics 2009).
In order to maintain a peaceful environment for all, we must address and inform our schools, children, and parents as well as the neighboring communities about the issue of school violence.
Despite the publication and dissemination of this report and earlier editions of it, a telephone poll by Hart and Teeter Research taken days after the shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, revealed that 71 percent of 1,004 adult respondents thought it was very likely or likely that a school shooting could happen in their community (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice 2000, 5). A USA Today poll from April 21, 1999, conducted the day after the Littleton, Colorado, shooting found that 68 percent of Americans thought it was likely that a shooting could happen in their town or city and that respondents were 49 percent more likely to be fearful of their schools than in the previous year. A CBS News phone poll two days after the Littleton, Colorado, shooting (April 22, 1999) found that 80 percent of Americans expected more school shootings, and the number of people listing crime as the most important problem increased fourfold (from 4 to 16 percent) in the week after the Littleton shooting. Two years later, a Gallup poll revealed that 63 percent of parents still thought it likely that a Columbine-type shooting could happen in their community (Gallup 2001). Matters were only made worse following a mass shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007 in which 32 people were killed. Although the incident took place on a college campus rather than within a local school district, students, teachers, parents, and administrators remained fearful regarding the prospect of further gun violence in U.S. schools (Fallahi et al. 2009).
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