According to the Washington Post, more than 221,000 students in 215 schools have experienced gun violence since the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999. The report shows that 141 students, teachers and other individuals have been murdered as a result of school shootings.
The 1997 tragedy at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky launched a national debate on how to end school violence. Unfortunately, more than 20 years later, the number of school shootings only continues to grow. To date, 2018 has been one of the most violent school years on record.
There was an average of one school shooting per week during the spring of 2018.
The national debate on school shootings is polarizing. The argument over the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms is at the heart and center of that conversation. Advocates from both sides have drawn clear lines in the sand. Unfortunately, little progress has been made over the last 20 years.
The National Coalition for Safe Schools fully supports work in that arena. However, we believe the discussion is focused on the end, not the means. The genesis of the problem begins long before a child ever thinks about bringing a gun to school. Unfortunately, little attention is directed towards the creation of a proactive approach where mental health services and social emotional learning [SEL] trainings are considered essential to the healthy development of the whole child. As a society, we cannot continue to ignore those needs while in pursuit of academic excellence.
In the vast majority of schools, the most important psychological building blocks in a child’s life are referred to as soft skills. Training is left to chance. Most children have to develop those foundational skills on their own with little guidance. Our children are crying for help and no one is listening. The National Coalition for Safe Schools is committed to ending school violence by working to ensure that our children have access to the tools, services and support they need to live healthy productive lives.