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Panicky responses to school shootings harm students

By Charles Gray (Global Times)

09:33, April 25, 2012

The recent mass school shooting at Oikos University in California, which claimed seven lives, is a tragedy. But we should avoid the temptation to overreact.

The first point that we must consider is that school shootings, especially mass school shootings, account for a tiny percentage of total violent deaths in the US. In 2010, according to the FBI, approximately 14,748 individuals were murdered in the US, continuing a trend of falling rates of violent crime that has been continuing ever since the early 1990s. School violence has been showing a similar decline, especially from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Murder is equally unusual at the college level. For example, the US Department of Education lists 31 reports of murder at US colleges in 2009, a tiny number compared to the approximately 81 million students who attend classes every day. However, why do these acts of violence produce such a dramatic reaction? We assume that schools, especially schools for juveniles, are safe places. For students and instructors to be killed in an institution dedicated to knowledge is horrifying precisely because it intrudes into a space normally seen as safe.

Due to the concentration of students and instructors in classrooms and residence halls, mass shooting events, when they do occur, can produce high death tolls, such as the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007. The very fact that school-related deaths are so rare makes the events all the more shocking when they do occur. Because of the tremendous amount of news coverage this generates, the impression may be given that schools are far more dangerous than they really are.

However, the danger is that overreaction to these incidents will create more problems than they solve. While hindsight can always show areas where school officials may have failed to effectively address the situation, the fact is that these situations sometimes have no quick and easy answer. At every level, officials must balance the rights of individual students with the desire to protect students and teachers.

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Sam Teng at 2012-04-26175.139.82.*
What about the recent attacks on Chinese students in the train in South Sidney, Australia? While the students are being attacked, other passengers didn"t lift a finger to help. Shooting or attacks is one thing, but attacks targeting at a particular group is racism and not acceptable.
PD User at 2012-04-25110.96.135.*
hao
Louis Godena at 2012-04-25108.34.241.*
A very sensible article; one I wish I had read in the American press, but one which, given the current climate here, appears quite unlikely from a U.S. source.
  

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