Having been a teacher and administrator, I was disappointed but not surprised by yesterday’s arrest of a Colombia, South Carolina high school senior who had collected enough supplies to carry out a bomb attack on his school. It seems that every week another name is added to the growing list of high school and college students intent on killing classmates, teachers and themselves.
In contrast to what we see on television and read in the newspapers and magazines, a recent five-year study by the FBI’s Crime Analysis, Research and Development Unit, which profiled who committed crimes in schools and what weapons were involved, concluded that the number of crimes that occurred at school locations remained at about 3% across all five years of the study. Similar research has been reported by social science studies.
Despite the widely held fear associated with violence in schools, empirical evidence indicates that schools are among the safest places for children, compared to their homes and neighborhoods.
So what leads us to conclude that there has been a huge spike in school violence?
Research suggests that there has been a strong mass media dynamic occurring.
Apparently, the high level of attention given to school shootings, compared to other forms of victimization in schools, is misleading.
As Captain Renault once said to Rick in the movie Casablanca, “I’m shocked.”