School violence shoots off the charts

We know the names—Columbine, Virginia Tech, Alabama-Huntsville. We know the statistics—15 people, 33 people, three people. Yet the impossible—the improbable—continues to happen, and only one question remains—why?

Despite the lengthy history of school shootings in the U.S., which dates back more than 40 years, the incidents continue to occur—and more frequently. According to the School Violence Resource Center, 76 school shootings and stabbings took place from 1996 to 2006.

As if that isn’t shocking enough, the most recent statistics are worse. In the last three years alone, 27 incidents have occurred on high school and college campuses throughout the nation. And they don’t just involve students. In fact, two of the most recent occurrences—Alabama-Huntsville and Ohio State—were connected with faculty or staff members.

At this point in the game, I think it’s safe to say this trend could be described as an epidemic—a rapid increase in the spread of school violence. What I don’t understand is why we haven’t done everything possible to put a stop to this epidemic, or make more of an effort to lessen its effects.

The psychology and reasoning behind school shootings is different for every situation, and I don’t know where one would begin to decipher the logic and rationale that goes through the minds of individuals who choose to create these incidents. With all of the ethical obstacles in the way of obtaining a person’s medical records, it makes it nearly impossible to monitor those who may be at risk of performing dangerous acts. Even so, it’s the unlikely events—the people you wouldn’t expect—that surprise us the most.

So what can be done? For starters, students, faculty and staff need to lose the apathetic attitude. It’s those individuals, those schools that believe an incident like that “would never happen to them” that put themselves at risk of not being prepared when disaster strikes. If you’re stubborn and still don’t believe me, I challenge you to enter “school shootings map” into any search engine and see what you find. Trust me, the results will show you—it happens everywhere.

Another step is to take advantage of campus resources. If we can’t control individuals and their actions, we can at least do our best to control the situation. Many schools have employed systems to notify those on campus of any precarious behavior. For instance, on Washburn’s campus, we have the iAlert system that informs individuals who are signed up of danger in the area through phone calls, text messages and e-mail messages. As long as those on campus let go of their apathy and sign up, the system can fully serve its purpose.

I know I can’t change everyone’s minds with a mere 500 words, and many of you will remain apathetic toward the situation. I can only hope you won’t limit your consideration for supporting efforts like these to just the time you spend in college. There are those who come after you, including your possible children, who could be affected by the dangers of school violence. Don’t let your apathy put the lives of others at risk.