A school shooting is an attack at an educational institution, such as a school or university, involving the use of firearms. The first recorded school shooting in the United States took place in 1840, when a law student shot and killed his professor at the University of Virginia. Despite that crime rates in the United States are declining, and homicide specifically is especially rare, many people believe that school shootings are becoming epidemic, occurring more frequently than the have in the past (Elsass, 2015). School shootings has stimulated the conversation of gun violence, zero tolerance policies, and gun control. Although school shootings occur worldwide, the United States has been the scene of the tremendous majority of the attacks, especially since the late 20th century. School shootings have a long history in the United States but the 1990s were the vital point of these incidents. However, it was the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999 that brought about seriousness to the issues of gun control and zero tolerance policies. In the Columbine High School shooting, two students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before taking their own lives. This shooting gained immense media attention and began a worldwide debate on gun control. Despite all efforts, school shootings advanced with numerous attacks happening each year. Some effective ways to end gun violence in schools are improving social and emotional health within schools, responding well to particularly troubled students, placing more emphasis on preventing shootings rather than preparing for them, and improving school security.
Improving the social and and emotional health of students within schools is a great way to ensure students see their school as a safe place and a positive environment. School climate is the quality of relationships between the students and adults in a school. This can be affected by how schools choose to discipline students and the availability of counselors and social workers. Although school climate is a broad concept with many components, it is commonly characterized as shared beliefs, values, and attitudes that shape interactions between students, teachers, and administrators and set the parameters of acceptable behavior and norms for the school (Peguero 2015). School climate can affect students’ mental health, emotional health, and academic success. If students feel like their school’s climate is harsh and unwelcoming they have a hard time opening up and tend to rebel against the school’s policies. So, if schools dedicate their resources on building a positive environment by shutting down bullying and discrimination, there is a chance to decrease conflict. Building a united and supportive school community is essential to preventing school shootings. In this United and supportive environment students tend to communicate with staff members more because there is a mutual trust and respect between students and the school staff.
Preventing school shootings rather than preparing for them is an essential and effective way of combating gun violence in schools because it stops the problem before it even occurs. In order for this plan to be set in place, society as a whole has to work together. Parents and school staff should notice warning signs in children that may lead to violence. Some of these warning signs are: withdrawal from social activity, difficulty eating/sleeping, abuse of animals, drug or alcohol abuse, a pattern of bullying, intolerance or prejudice against certain groups of people, unusually intense/violent content in personal writings or artwork, physical fighting with others, destruction of property, possession of weapons, and threats of suicide. Ninety-three percent of the school attackers in the study of 37 incidents behaved in a way that concerned others (Schuster 2007). By paying attention to these early warning signs and taking direct action against them students won’t be as violent as they are if left untreated. Instead of waiting for these attacks to happen again then preventing them, society should go into the community with preventive resources.
Responding to particularly troubled students has a great impact on whether or not students will become violent towards their peers. Studies show that troubled students are more likely to commit crimes than others. In fact, some reasons that students become violent are: they want to get back at those that hurt them, they’ve been bullied, they don’t value life, they have witnessed physical abuse at home, violence is a way of life in their neighborhood, they have been victims of physical abuse, or they have mental problems. Increasing security within schools is also another way to decrease violence in schools. Schools can increase security by getting metal detectors, obtaining cameras and remote monitoring, and hiring armed and trained security guards. Every school in America could benefit from a carefully-selected, specifically trained school resource officer. School resource officers gain valuable intelligence, that’s information they can use and have used to stop an incident before it ever occurs (Cline 2018). Of course these changes won’t completely end mass shooting in schools but they are a major step towards the reform that America needs.
In conclusion, school shootings are a major issue in America are a huge issue that needs to be stopped before it becomes any worse. There have been 288 school shootings in the United States since 2009. Each school shooting opens a debate on the gun problem in America although there has been no reform yet. School shootings have generated great public concern and fostered a widespread impression that schools are unsafe for many students (Borum 2010). In addition, new gun control laws should be set in place so it isn’t as easy to obtain guns as it is now. Gun control laws are the biggest issue in America because they aren’t as strict or enforced as they should be. With these school shootings occurring as often as they are people are beginning to protest and look for ways to reform our current gun control laws. Improving social and mental health, responding well to troubled students, placing more emphasis on preventing shootings rather than preparing for them, and improving school security are all effective ways to combat the gun violence in schools throughout America.