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U.S. school shootings spike amid pandemic stress -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Tapes tied to trees by emergency responders to the shooting at Heritage High School Newport News (Virginia), U.S.A, September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jay Paul


Brad Brooks

(Reuters) – An ex-student of 19 years was killed and shot after a Beloit high school basketball match a week ago. Three teens were hospitalized after a shooting at Chaparral High school in Las Vegas on Monday.

Five teenage girls sustained injuries and were gunshot to the head outside Rufus King High School, Milwaukee. A student was also shot and killed outside South Education Center, Minneapolis. This is the only case in which suspects have been arrested. Two students at the school were also charged.

There are signs that gun violence is increasing in American schools due to the challenges and stresses of the pandemic. The phenomenon is being studied by researchers who fear it will get worse.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, campus shootings have already occurred during the 2021-22 schoolyear. This is more than any time in the past decade.

The problems that existed before the pandemic, such as inequalities and lack of resources, have gotten worse, even though COVID-19 presents new challenges. For example, half the teachers want to retire or quit early because COVID-19 is creating so much stress, according to recent survey results by the National Education Association.

This means that there will be less adults who are able to see signs of violent behavior in children, and that this trend will not change.

Ron Avi Astor from UCLA is an expert on school violence. He said, “Kids walk into a weak system.” “We will see many different types of gun violence as well as general violence. Things are only going to worsen.”

Astor stated that violence can be caused by many factors, including the pandemic, increased violence in the community, and family structure breakdowns. He said that all these issues are causing a tsunami of mental health problems in schools. Burnout, illness and a lack of staff are some of the reasons teachers and administrators have difficulty coping with these problems.

Astor stated that the problem isn’t necessarily lack of funding. It’s the human capital, teachers, experts, and staff, which could be used to address the violence crisis.


Katherine Schweit (retired FBI agent, who specialized in active shooters, and the author of the “Stop the Killing”, published last year), said that parents’ chaotic schedules have been a key contributor to the violence. Parents, teachers, and other adults are less likely to notice warning signs because there is less supervision and less predictability for their children.

“One of the things that we focus on when we talk about preventing shootings … is what is different in someone’s routine that might indicate to us that this person is on a trajectory towards violence,” she said. But who does not have a routine? Nobody.”

Jillian Peterson (a Hamline University professor of criminology and co-creator/director of the Violence Project research facility) says that gun availability is also a factor. While gun sales were steady throughout the year, purchases are starting to slow. Peterson claimed that too many of these guns were not secure in their homes and are open to teens.

Peterson said that one of the best things schools could do is to create crisis teams and response systems for students so teachers and students can express concerns. These information can then be sent to those who are trained to assess the threat.

Peterson stated that, while it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly the cause of violence increases, research agrees with Peterson that school closings are a major contributor.

She said, “We know that many things that would have prevented violence, such as after-school activities and sports, are still down and not working in many places.”

Peterson said that the pandemic has shown him that schools go beyond being schools. They are the glue that holds our society together. And they hold our children together in so many other ways. We lost them.