The one number that shows how unique America's problem with school shootings is
February 15 at 12:04 PM Email the author
Police stand guard in front of the entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Thursday in Parkland, Fla. (Cristobal Herrera/European Pressphoto Agency)
So far this year, there have been at least seven school shootings in the United States. That's more than one a week, more school shootings than many countries have ever had. Last month, for example, a 15-year-old killed two of his peers (and injured 18 others) at his high school in Kentucky.
This is not an anomaly. The United States is suffering from a gun-violence epidemic, one that has been spilling into schools.
Since 2000, there have been more than 188 shoot ings at schools and universities, my colleague Philip Bump estimates. (It's hard to cite a definitive number, because the federal government does not study gun violence in the United States. The National Rifle Association has opposed any measure to fund research or accounting of America's gun epidemic.)
More than 200 students have been killed. At least 200 more have been injured.
[Europeans had school shootings, too. Then they did something about it.]
But one statistic truly points out how unusual the problem is.
A couple of years ago, the Academy for Critical Incident Analysis collected data on school violence around the world. They took a broad look at incidents where someone was killed, or a murder was attempted and charted every one that had two or more victims. (Researchers left out âsingle homicides, off-campus homicides, killings caused by government actions, militaries, terrorists or militants.â So, incidents like this one, where a U.S. airstrike in Syria accidentally hit a school and market and killed 30, are not included.)
Between 2000 and 2010, it recorded 57 incidents in 36 countries.
Half those incidents â" 28 â" occurred in the United States.
That's right. In U.S. schools, there was as much violence as schools in:
- Northern Ireland
- Russian Federation
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Trinidad and Tobago
That's all the more shocking when you consider that in 2010, the United States had about 309 million residents. The population of the other countries totaled 3.8 billion. It's worth noting, too, that 13 of those countries had never suffered a school massacre.
[Everyone knows Americans own more guns than residents of any other country. But why?]
Violence in U.S. schools is much more likely be carried out using a gun, too. As Quartz explained about the study:
In the vast majority of U.S. killings, perpetrators used guns. By comparison, China â" with the second-greatest number of incidents â" saw 10 mass killings, but none involving firearms. Germany saw three mass shootings; Finland saw two. Thirteen other countries each saw one incident with at least one person being wounded or killed; in the rest nobody was reported as hurt.
There's evidence, too, that school violence is declining in oth er places. As my colleague explained this morning, âin Europe, there hasn't been a major high-casualty gun attack on a campus in almost a decade.â
That's because Americans have a disproportionate number of guns (at least 300 million, about one per person), especially handguns and semiautomatic weapons. (A bullet from an AR-15 rifle, which the alleged shooter used in the Florida attack Wednesday, can penetrate a steel helmet from five hundred yards. As the New Yorker put it: âWhen fired from close range at civilians who arenât wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 donât merely penetrate the human body â" they tear it apart. It 'looks like a grenade went off in there,' Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, told Wired.")
Also, as my WorldViews colleague Rick Noack points out, we're much more lax about who can buy and keep weapons, and it's harder for children and adults to access mental health serv ices.
Of course, the United States is not the only country struggling with school violence. But it's the only country where there are so many guns, and where violence against students â" children mostly â" is almost routine.Source: Google News