A terrifying statistic has been going 'round the Internet this week. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, there have been at least 74 school shootings in America. That includes the tragedy at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday, when a gunman entered the school building, killed one student, and injured a teacher.
Compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, the school shooting report lists not only the number of shootings, but also the casualties. In 49 percent of the incidents, at least one person died.
Teachers. School staff members. Children.
All dying in what amounts to nearly one school shooting every week.
"We should feel secure in sending our children to school -- comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe," the folks at Everytown posted this week.
But we don't.
We don't because something has happened in America. Something that has nothing to do with the gun control battle that seems to have no end.
Children have become targets and killing children is a means to exact one's revenge on -- it seems -- everyone who has wronged you.
The biggest fear for parents is the notion that their child's school could be next, but almost as scary is the idea that we don't know why it's happening.
Why this shift in American crime? (And it is a shift. According to Stop the Shootings, there have been 387 total shootings in schools since 1992. Take 74 from 387, and that means 19 percent of the shootings in a 22-year span happened in less than 2 years. That's a startling jump. And for parents, a mystifying one.)
Why would anyone want to hurt our kids? How is it that anyone can look at a child and not see something good, pure, innocent, worth protecting? Even during wartime, civilized societies generally agree that children are off-limits. And in emergencies, it's generally accepted that children get the first life-saving treatment.
Children should be precious. So why are they targets?
Granted, the Everytown report and Stop the Shootings' statistics both include child-on-child violence. According to Everytown, the youngest shooter in its list was just 5 years old.
But the oldest? He was 53. And he took a gun into a school.
We need to control the guns in this country. That's absolutely true.
But these statistics tell us we also need to take a long, hard look at our society's attitudes toward children. At what it is that makes these people turn on our society's most vulnerable.
Ours is supposed to be an advanced nation, a nation where our children are given chances they might not get in less developed worlds, where little girls are married off and little boys sent to war. Our children are supposed to get the best we have to offer, to have a global village helping to protect them, to raise them.
We as parents can't protect our kids without society's help.
What do you make of this startling statistic? Do you feel like kids are now targets?
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