This post is the first in an eight-week series about school shootings in the United States. Each new article will be posted every Monday.
Four weeks ago, Parkland, Florida students experienced the traumatic shooting at their school. Three months into 2018, there have been 17 school shootings (CNN). Six years after Sandy Hook, 63 school shootings have occurred in the United States (TIME). 19 years after the Columbine High School shooting, more than 193 primary and secondary schools have experienced gun violence; more than 187,000 students have seen and experienced gun violence at their schools since 1999 (Washington Post). Gun violence in schools has become such a part of American society that children are being raised to prepare for the worst to happen in a space that is supposed to be safe for them. From a young age, students experience lock-down and active shooter drills at school to prepare them for the potential of it happening. College campuses continue the active shooter drills in academic buildings and dormitories; students never escape the reality of gun violence being possible in school. The question is: how did America get here? When did the consistent incidents of shootings begin in our society?
It is often considered that the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 was the first major school shooting in United States history. However, before the incident at Columbine, school shootings were a part of American history. The Enoch Brown Massacre in 1764, occurring before America’s founding, is considered the first violent incident to happen on United States school property. During the Pontiac War, Schoolmaster Brown and nine students were killed (Hazen, N). The first school shooting to occur after America’s founding was at St. Mary’s Parochial School in New York on April 9, 1891 where children were wounded through the shotgun bullets fired at them (Hazen, N). Though there have been countless of people injured and killed in school shootings, the actual number of how many school shootings have occurred throughout the history of our country is debated due to varying definitions of “school shooting.” The definition we will be using as we further discuss school shootings in future blogs is a violent incident that meets one or more aspects of the following criteria: “At least one victim was injured or killed, either the shooter or at least one of the victims was a student or teacher, the attack occurred on school property, and injuries are as a result of gunfire” (TIME, CNN).
Though this definition may seem to narrow down the number of incidents that are technically considered school shootings, it is also disheartening to realize how many incidents do fit this definition. Through the tragedy of Parkland to Marshall County High School to Stoneman Douglas High School to Sandy Hook to Columbine High School to the beginning of America’s founding, the unsafe circumstances that students face every day is not something to overlook.
CNN: “US School Violence Fast Facts”
CNN: “There has been, on average, 1 school shooting every week this year”
The Washington Post: “Scarred by School Shootings”
Natalie Hazen: “16 School Shootings that Took Place Before Columbine”
TIME: “Number of School Shooting Victims Since Sandy Hook”
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