Just shy of 6 months ago, a school shooting happened 45 miles from my home in Oxford, Michigan. It happened at the high school. 4 students were killed and 7 were injured. 10 days ago, there was a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY at the Tops Supermarket that took the lives of 10 people. Today, another mass shooting at an elementary school that killed 19 students and a teacher.
Education Week as been tracking school shootings since 2018. According to its database, 119 such incidents have taken place since then. There were 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year.
The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization, has counted 212 mass shootings that have occurred so far this year, as of Tuesday. It defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the shooter.
As for school shootings, according to Education Week, 2021 had 34 such incidents at educational institutions (the highest since the organization started its database). In 2020, there were 10 shootings. Both 2019 and 2018 recorded 24 shootings.
Mass shootings are becoming more and more common. I read a blog today that said: I’m not trying to be glib, but mass killings in America have become a bit like living near train tracks. The trains routinely rumble past, but we are so used to it, we stop noticing them after a while. (The blog was pointlessoverthinking.com) I truly hope this is not the case.
It is sickening to me. For the life of me, I cannot understand what motivates someone to do something like this. 19 children – elementary school children with bright futures ahead of them – had their lives taken away from them. 19 families – parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles – all will mourn the loss of someone near and dear to them for many months and years ahead.
How many children told their parents they loved them for the last time this morning? How many parents said they’d see them later when dropping them off at school? How many had plans to go to dinner with family after school? It is SO upsetting to me.
Sam and I were discussing preschools and schools just this weekend. We’d also talked about home schooling as well a few months ago. It scares me to think about it.
I know that “active shooter” and “lock down” drills have become a regular thing in schools today. However, I think about those elementary kids. Do they even know to run? If a gun was going off in a building it would be loud and scary. I know many a child who would just stand there and cry.
When the story about the shooting broke today, it originally stated that 2 children had died. That number quickly grew to 14 and now 19. The numbers don’t matter, because one child is too many. I feel tremendously sad for the families of those children, the children who survived, and the entire community.
Deep down, I also feel anger. I’m not starting a political debate here, please don’t make it that. I am angry that there is so much violence and hatred in the world. I am angry that children cannot be children and have to live ever so cautiously. I’m angry that parents, who already naturally worry about their children, now have more worries than necessary.
Whitney Houston sang, “I believe children are our future.” She wasn’t alone in feeling that way.
Our children ARE IMPORTANT! It is our job to do what we can to keep them safe. We are to raise them to respect others and to be kind. We are to teach them to be honest and show gratitude. We are to teach them integrity. We are to teach them to forgive and to be compassionate toward others. We are to teach them to be determined and perseverance. We are to teach them to be responsible. We are to teach them that it is ok to fail. We are to teach them love.
I pray that the senseless events of Tuesday will cause us to look for ways to protect our children at all costs. The hurt, the anger, the sadness, and the violence needs to stop.