Schools safe as ever despite spate of shootings, scares

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In the 11 months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., another school attack or safety scare seems to unfold almost weekly.

Three students — two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old — were shot and wounded Wednesday near a Pittsburgh high school as they walked to their car after classes. A 20-year-old man armed with an AK-47-style rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition entered an elementary school in Decatur, Ga., on Aug. 20 and fired a few rounds but surrendered before anyone was injured. A 45-year-old teacher was shot to death, allegedly by a 12-year-old student, at Nevada's Sparks Middle School on Oct. 21. The next day, a Massachusetts high school math teacher was stabbed to death with a box cutter, allegedly by a 14-year-old student.

It'd be easy to conclude that school has never been a more dangerous place, but for the USA's 55 million K-12 students and 3.7 million teachers, statistics tell another story: Despite two decades of high-profile shootings, school increasingly has become a safer place.

The trend is playing out against a backdrop of jitters over school security that have accumulated since Newtown. Schools in some states are urged to issue concealed handgun permits to teachers and buy them bulletproof whiteboards and desk calendars. An Ohio company sells a $100 Kevlar insert it says will make any backpack bulletproof. Educators attend training sessions in which they're advised to charge armed attackers.

Written By: Greg Toppo
continue to source article at usatoday.com

24 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      If it is better that it ever was, what was killing the kids before?

      Fires. Tornadoes, Gas leaks, poorly designed buildings that have various hazards. The safety requirements for buildings and the corresponding policies and training are far better now so far fewer children die that way.

      I think both sides have a point here. The danger to children is minimal. It’s like terrorism, the amount of money we spend combating it is completely dispraportionate to the actual risk. Far more people, at least by a factor of ten, perhaps by a factor of a hundred or thousand, die by drowning in their bathtubs than are killed by terrorism yet we spend billions combating terrorism.

      At the same time I agree with crookedshoes that there is a problem at all is indicative of a massive problem with US society. The way guns are fetishized by so many American maies. It’s one question I’ve never been able to understand Yosemite Sam Harris’s response to. I disagree with him on other issues but his jumping on the “real men need guns” bandwagon in light of recent school shootings was an appalling position for any serious intellectual to take.

      • In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:

        the way guns are fetishized by so many american males – real men need guns

        Switching gears for a sec – women also are keen on guns (a female family member keeps a loaded revolver under her pillow for protection, u.s.).

        Our culture starts ‘em out young – ‘My First Rifle’-.22LR, including pink. I read recently that women hunters are on the increase. Ironically, more men are switching to bows.

        • In reply to #12 by bluebird:

          In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #1 by Roedy:

          the way guns are fetishized by so many american males – real men need guns

          Switching gears for a sec – women also are keen on guns (a female family member keeps a loaded revolver under her pillow for protection, u.s.).

          Our culture starts ‘em o…

          I think you are just being fooled by gun propaganda. It’s one of the arguments they trot out to make it seem as if being for unlimited access to guns is somehow supportive of women’s rights. I’ve never seen any credible statistics that show a significant amount of gun purchases are now being made by women. And the same goes for crossbows, they may be the latest way for men to prove they are macho but I haven’t seen any statistics that men are switching to them from guns in any statistically meaningful way.

          IMO, the fundamental problem with guns in the US, well actually there are two. One is that so many American men are insecure about their masculinity and our culture promotes guns as the way to feel macho. The second is that selling guns is a huge business and there are people who make it seem as if it’s an issue of rights and freedom when it’s really about maximizing profit.

          • In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

            I think you are just being fooled by gun propaganda

            Er, no. The NRA, et.al., holds no sway over me. There is a shop on the outskirts of a small mid-west town – grave headstones for sale in front are juxtaposed to a sign that reads ‘guns for sale’. Perfect propaganda for anti-gun folks.

            women’t rights

            Not part of the mix – I was just pondering the mindset of women who are pro-guns, not literally how many pack heat.

            American men are insecure…

            Naturally I cannot empathize – just thoughts and concerns about it. Will leave it at that, I fold.

      • In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

        Far more people, at least by a factor of ten, perhaps by a factor of a hundred or thousand, die by drowning in their bathtubs than are killed by terrorism yet we spend billions combating terrorism.

        That is the point Pinker makes in his The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined book. I suspect though that handgun injuries and deaths are significantly higher than terrorism. I have visited the USA not that often, but I have been shot at while there on 5 different occasions. In one case I was in a restaurant with a full scale shootout between police and robbers. We had to sneak out on our bellies. I have been shot at only once in my life in Canada (while a paper boy, with a 22). I refuse to go to the USA any more.

        In America, lunatics with multiple weapons can wander the streets, not even questioned. The police wait until they have killed someone before acting.

        The constitution allowed for muskets to be available in defence of the state. This state right has ballooned into a personal right to stockpile stock pretty well any weapon except bombs and nukes. The odd thing is the extreme resistance to measures to protect children who play with guns or people who shoot them inadvertently. This would interfere with their use as penis substitutes. They need to be dangerous as possible.

        • In reply to #13 by Roedy:

          In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

          Far more people, at least by a factor of ten, perhaps by a factor of a hundred or thousand, die by drowning in their bathtubs than are killed by terrorism yet we spend billions combating terrorism.

          There are two separate questions here. One is how dangerous are our schools right now? Is there some crisis that requires a response the same way say climate change clearly does? On that question I think the answer is no, the actual number of shootings is minimal compared to the reaction. Of course the reaction is understandable, these kinds of tragedies work on people’s emotions and I could see making a case that we need to do the absolute utmost to prevent even one more such shooting just because they are so traumatic and contribute to a general feeling of anxiety for children and parents.

          The second question though is: is there a problem with guns in US society right now which the school shootings are just one example of? And I think the answer to that is clearly yes. Gun violence is off the charts in the US compared to most of the rest of the civilized world and as a nation we are so far incapable of addressing it. And this brings me back to Yosemite Sam because I think a big reason we can’t address the problem of gun violence is that people like Harris spread nonsense about guns being the equivalent of freedom.

  1. Schools as dangerous as ever, I think you mean to say.

    The writer is simply desensitized (or maybe another gun nut), to the point where it is an acceptable mindset to say “Oh, just 50 odd dead children this year, well that’s not too bad. You’ve got to expect education to have some collateral damage, haven’t you?”

    Let’s not even mention the 1.2 million “non-fatal victimisations”!

    Quite seriously, as a parent of kids aged 5 and 7, I would not want them educated in America.

  2. The trouble with averaging out statistics like this is that often there are clusters of activity because of low socio-economic factors and so forth that mean that overall yes it may be safe but tell that to kids going to schools in poor areas rife with drugs and gangs and see how safe you feel, how safe are they? Not many airline crashes either but that won’t give much comfort if you happen to be looking out on a grease streaked wing and noticing signs of corrosion on the airliner you happen to be flying in.

  3. This is much like the “Vatican research” and the 100,000 martyrs. I disagree vehemently with the interpretation of this data set.

    We have this level of danger DESPITE metal detectors and POLICE in the schools and MARINES as teachers and in some places, the arming of teachers.

    These things do make schools safer but only are necessary because schools are NOT SAFER.

    Reach your own conclusions, but if you ask someone who was in a classroom during 9-11, during Colombine, during Sandy Hook, during during during all the tragedy of the past 18 years, I’d tell you straight up that the tenure in most buildings is an escalated wariness.

    Also, I am aware of many many “last second” saves where the potential violence of a child (or sometimes adult) is thwarted. That does mean (in some sense) that the “system” can work. Buut the stakes are so high that a breakdown in the system is NOT TOLERABLE.

    We have a gun problem in America. A gun problem that is compounded by a crisis in the treatment and identification of mental illness.

    The Senate and Congress certainly insulate themselves from potential violence (see the woman shot to death outside congress during the “gov’t shutdown”)… Why should it be ok for our children to be in the crosshairs when the policy makers are insulated????

    Fucking corruption top to bottom.

  4. I’ve never understood why Americans insist on having such a deadly right ….The right to bear arms with a deadly weapon…seems like a ludicrous concept to me….the crazy people also have that right then…..recipe for disaster…as has been proved again and again….schools shouldn’t need to be bullet proof….its like a prison for kids…to justify keeping guns…..MAD

  5. Yep, schools have never been safer. No need to reform the gun laws. Everything’s OK, just keep doing what you’re doing America. Buy all the assault rifles you want, no background checks. Oh and don’t forget to stockpile those munitions too.

    I am Wayne LaPierre and I approve this message.

  6. IMO, the fundamental problem with guns in the US, well actually there are two. One is that so many American men are insecure about their masculinity and our culture promotes guns as the way to feel macho. The second is that selling guns is a huge business and there are people who make it seem as if it’s an issue of rights and freedom when it’s really about maximizing profit.

    I agree but would add to your list…..

    1. treatment and identification of mental illness. (I attribute to insurance companies effectively buying politicians)…

    and

    1. Politicians taking MONEY FROM THE GUN LOBBY.

    The maximizing of profit feeds the politicians pockets as well. So that their children and children’s children can all go to private schools and be insulated from the world we have to live in and they have created.

    They (politicians gun dealers insurance companies….) ALL have these children’s blood on their hands (school kids who have been massacred).

    • In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

      IMO, the fundamental problem with guns in the US, well actually there are two. One is that so many American men are insecure about their masculinity and our culture promotes guns as the way to feel macho. The second is that selling guns is a huge business and there are people who make it seem as if…

      I agree with both of those but with a caveat about the mental health issue. IMO this is another example of something that gun advocates trot out as an excuse. Don’t get me wrong I agree we need better funding for mental health absolutely. But I don’t think we should ever expect that psychologists can completely short circuit these kinds of events ahead of time. Even if we had complete and accurate predictive models as to who is at risk, human behavior is always very complex and virtually impossible to predict with good accuracy.

      Also, it’s ironic that some of the same politicians who scream about their freedom to own assault rifles and M50 machine guns are often the first ones to propose curtailing the civil rights of mental health patients as a response to these shootings. We shouldn’t blame the therapists of people that do these crimes unless there is clear evidence of negligence and we shouldn’t (as we did after 9/`11) let politicians use a crisis as an excuse to curtail basic civil rights of people with mental illness.

      • An excellent expansion on my (feeble) post. I agree.

        In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

        IMO, the fundamental problem with guns in the US, well actually there are two. One is that so many American men are insecure about their masculinity and our culture promotes guns as the way to feel macho. The second is that selling guns is a huge business and there…

  7. something that is overlooked imho on the mental health front is
    those of us who have hepc. hepc can and does lead to liver cancer.
    stage 4 liver cancer is basically insanity. tie you to a bed and let noobs practice taking your
    blood repeatedly every day when you’re not ranting trying to escape.
    Those who live to that point don’t suddenly wake up one day insane do they?
    .
    there’s millions of us. could we be dangerous? am I dangerous?
    do you feel lucky? oh btw I can buy a gun today, tomorrow and the day after.
    my answer to this is why are there still 347 different items on the flu and cold aisle
    that do not cure the common cold. keep voting so shit never changes. keep giving a voice
    to those that would see us fail. here’s a tip, most of those are projected to you as the good guys.
    that is all

    • Suzyspellcheck,
      Unfortunately, the common cold is a virus. And, we do not cure viruses. we can prevent them. We can offer supportive symptomatic medicines. But we do not cure them. Not one. Not yet. I hope against hope that cures are on the horizon, but understanding the nature of viruses, I have to tell you, it seems pretty far away to me.

      Now, i do not purport to be an authority and I am sure others can bring more to the table. I am completely sympathetic to your plea, however, I just don’t see cures, REAL CURES for viruses coming down the pike any time soon.

      In reply to #19 by SuzySpellcheck:

      something that is overlooked imho on the mental health front is
      those of us who have hepc. hepc can and does lead to liver cancer.
      stage 4 liver cancer is basically insanity. tie you to a bed and let noobs practice taking your
      blood repeatedly every day when you’re not ranting trying to escape.
      Tho…

  8. crookedshoes;
    I agree and forgot about the common cold being a virus.
    and yea no cures. with hep they say you have been cleared
    but the virus can return to being measurable and destroying the liver.

    overall imho I don’t think anything meaningful will be done regarding gun violence or
    violence in society on a whole. until religion dies first the human species has no
    chance to rise to the full height demanded by its dignity and intelligence.

    Borrowed and butchered from Christopher Hitchens

    • Agreed.

      They talk about viral load and when the blood stream is clear of measurable virus, the patient is “clear”. However, they still have the virus and can still be contagious. The virus stuff is very scary. If you’d like to consider a book recommendation, check out “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. It is about Ebola but the story is pretty compelling and the damn virus is terrifying.

      In reply to #24 by SuzySpellcheck:

      crookedshoes;
      I agree and forgot about the common cold being a virus.
      and yea no cures. with hep they say you have been cleared
      but the virus can return to being measurable and destroying the liver.

      overall imho I don’t think anything meaningful will be done regarding gun violence or
      violence in s…

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