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Oh The Humanity! Oh For A Little Perspective! -- Reported 1999-04-29 03:28 by MAJ
"25 STUDENTS DEAD IN SCHOOL SHOOTING!" scream the headlines. "THIS IS THE BIGGEST TRAGEDY OUR NATIONS SCHOOLS HAVE EVER KNOWN" screams the media. And both are wrong. Not just because they keep getting the number of dead students wrong, not because some guy blew up a school in the '20s taking out over twice as many kids, but because both exclamations are missing a few words--"white," "suburban," and "middle class" for starters.

Here is a run down on the shootings we've all heard about over the last few years:

February, 1996, 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis of Moses Lake, WA takes out two students and a teacher with a hunting rifle.

February, 1996 16-year-old Evan Ramsey of Bethel, AK kills two wounds three.

October, 1997, Luke Woodham, 16, of Pearl, MS beats his mom with a bat and finishes her off with a butcher knife, then heads to school with a rife and kills two wounds seven.

December, 1997 14-year-old Michael Carneal of West Paducah, KY takes out a prayer circle with a 22-caliber semiautomatic pistol killing five.

March, 1998 Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, of Jonesboro, AR: four girls and a teacher

April, 1998, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst, Edinboro, PA, Kills one, wounds two.

May, 1998, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel of Springfield, OR. takes out four, including his parents.

April, 1999 Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, Littleton, CO. We've all heard the story: 13.

That's a total of 35 over three years. 18 school killings during 1997-1998 alone. Seems like way too big a number, but the truth is it's barely the tip of a really ugly iceberg that a lot of people have been living with for years.

In reality, where the media rarely ventures, 42 students were killed in school killings during 1997-1998. And that's actually down from 52 during 1993-94.

"But wait! You just said 18! The list is right there! And what do you mean 52 in 1993--I never saw those headlines!"

Sorry, I meant to say "18 white, suburban, middle class school killings in 1997-1998 alone." Those darn couple of words keep getting left out of the facts.

I can't give you the stats on the other 24 deaths, because the headlines, if there were any, were buried on page A 27 and promptly forgotten. But you can bet it wasn't in a white, suburban, middle class high school where things like this aren't supposed to happen. You probably also bet that their weren't any bans on any nail polish and trench coats or visits from the Vice President--not to mention $1.5 MILLION DOLLARS in victim support funds.

Earlier this month, the federal National Institute of Justice began offering $950,000 in grants to companies working on school security technology. Some of the ideas include: GIS (geographic information systems) and crime mapping, high-definition closed-circuit television, voice-recognition capabilities (for phoned-in threats), video conferences links with local police, drug- and explosives-detecting sensors and surveillance technology. Boy is that stuff gonna be in the price range of most inner-city high schools. Maybe they can sell off some of those extra new textbooks or cut back on those thousands of after school programs they have!

The fact of the matter is that it really sucks to send your kids off to school everyday wondering if they're gonna make it home or not. It really sucks that dozens of teenagers aren't going to live long enough to find out there is life after high school, because for them there isn't. But it also sucks that some people think they're entitled to some sort of simple answers because they live in a "nice" neighborhood. It sucks that the tears of some horror-stricken parents bring about more national soul searching and breast beating than the horror-stricken tears of other parents. And it sucks that every time the media says, "How could this happen here?" they are also saying, "Because it's only supposed to happen there."

 

 

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

zales@pigdog.org


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