Are School Homicides Becoming the Norm? Short answer: No. Long answer: Read the article. Excerpt:
In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, the president worried that such slayings are “becoming the norm.” I’ve written skeptically in the past about whether the number of mass shootings in America is actually increasing, as the word becoming implies—see my posts here, here, and here—but there’s always a haze of uncertainty around those numbers, thanks to the varying definitions of “mass shooting” that different people use.
But maybe that isn’t the best thing to be measuring in the first place. The Oregon incident isn’t a “mass” shooting at all—the gunman killed two people, and one of those was himself—but it obviously speaks to the same sorts of fear and grief. If your son was just shot, after all, it’s hardly a comfort that his classmates survived. A map darting around the Internet this week claims to show all the school shootings since Sandy Hook. Note the modifier: school, not mass.
Here is the report mentioned in the article, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2013. Read it for yourself. One relevant highlight:
Of the 31 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 25 homicides and 6 suicides. During the same time period, there were 11 homicides and 3 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school.
During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school. During the 2010 calendar year, 3 of the 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.
Compare that to a typical weekend in, say, Chicago.
I don’t want to belittle any event of violence in any school, anywhere. But as an Objectivist, I am compelled to evaluate facts – and the facts are that school shootings, while tragic, are not epidemic, and not increasing, demagoguery by some in the media aside – the numbers simply do not add up.
This much is clear: If you’re wondering where kids are likely to die, the answer plainly isn’t a classroom. (Quoting the BJS report one more time: “During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.”) And in the period for which we have clear data, the school homicide rate moved in the same direction as the overall homicide rate: downward. To bring it still lower, the first question to ask is what happened to get us that far.
Let’s also ask this: What is the common thread among all of the highly-publicized mass shootings that have happened in the last several years? One comes immediately to mind: A history of untreated or undertreated mental illness.
Root cause analysis, True Believers – it’s something nobody in the media a) knows how to do, and 2) gives a damn about.