A day after the Texas school massacre, Ohio teacher Renee Coley thought her sixth grade students would need time to process it, so she opened class with a video about the news and started a discussion. Some students said they were sad. Some were dismayed the 19 slain children were so young. After a few minutes, the conversation fizzled. Students were ready to move on with their day.
To Coley, it was a grim reminder that the students had seen it all before, had grown accustomed to the ever-present threat of guns in school. “They have no questions because these kids have grown up their entire lives and this has been the reality for them,” said Coley, a teacher in Reynoldsburg, outside Columbus. “They’ve processed this so many times. ... It’s just another news day for them.” The interaction shows how American students have grown up numb to the violence that has been playing out throughout their lives, in much greater frequency since the pandemic, the Associated Press reports.
The bloodbath at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Tx., marked the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct.
Although mass shootings of that magnitude are rare, researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School have recorded 504 cases of gun violence at elementary, middle and high schools since the start of 2020, a total eclipsing the previous eight years combined.
Since 2012, a total of 73 students have been killed in school shootings with at least four victims shot and two victims killed, saysJames Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University.
An alarming number of cases have involved teens who turned to violence to resolve spur-of-the-moment conflicts, said David Riedman, a criminologist who co-founded the database at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
The proliferation of guns in homes, coupled with an overburdened mental health system that has left many students without the help they need, has fueled the increase in school gun violence.
“Gun violence is like a flood, and when your community is flooded, all your buildings take on water,” said Dewey Cornell, a psychologist and director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginia. Schools are still among the safest places for children, Cornell emphasized, with most killings taking place in homes, public streets or other locales.
Los Angeles high school social studies teacher Nicolle Fefferman started her classes Wednesday with questions about how people were feeling after the Uvalde massacre. Students began listing all the times they’ve had to be in lockdowns.
tudents asked Fetterman what it was like when she was young. Her answer stunned them.“They said, ‘You didn’t do lockdown drills when you were growing up?’” they asked. ”‘No, guys, this was not a part of my experience,’ ” she said. “This is the generation that has been engaged in these drills the way we used to do earthquake and fire drills,” Fetterman said.