Letter to the Editor

School Violence: The story of what’s really happening

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Throughout the decades, school shootings have become more and more common. Starting in the 1990s, you can find all sorts of news reports on school and university shootings. The shooting of West Paducah, Ky., in 1997. Three students killed, five wounded. The shooting of Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998. Four students and one teacher killed, 10 injured. The shooting of Littleton, Colo., in 1999. Fourteen students and one teacher killed, 23 were hospitalized.

And as the year shifted to the 2000s, these tragedies leaked and spoiled what could have been a new beginning in America. We attempt to fix our burdens by ignoring it, locking away the people who did wrong in their country, and act as though everything will be all right now. It hasn’t been, not in the past decades and certainly not in our day in age, where media and technology has advanced beyond our control and contributes to the mass murders that happen on the open end of a gun.

And this, as much as America is ashamed of it, needs to be talked about with the younger generations. Anyone can have raging emotions strong enough to act as gasoline toward actions, and might not think twice while preparing to take down a school full of innocent children and adults.

No matter how old a child is and how much you try and shelter them, younger children as little as preschool age can teach themselves to use a weapon with the right teacher. In late February 2000, a young boy who attended Theo J. Buell elementary school brought a loaded pistol in his jeans pocket to school. At about 10 in the morning, as the boy and his class were traveling up the stairs, he pulls the gun from his pocket, points it at a young girl in front of him named Kayla and simply says, “I don’t like you” and shoots her. The bullet traveled through her right arm and hit her vital organs, causing her stomach to bleed on both sides and her throat to receive no air. Another student, Chris, who is only seven years old, witnessed this scene unfold. Kayla was rushed to the hospital and died 30 minutes later. Police were at a loss of what to charge who, but since the young killer was a minor, they could only charge his father with involuntary manslaughter and, something that was discovered later, possession of cocaine. The young boy and his brother, who was eight years old, were living with their father in the what could be called a “drug house,” while men went in, drank alcohol and smoked cocaine while the boys sat on the back porch until nightfall, where they shared a small couch to sleep on. This young boy was the opposite of protected, he was barely taught the difference between right and wrong. The boy who brought a weapon to school had been very little in age and, with role models not teaching him how to deal with anger emotions, learned to pull the trigger instead.

The University of Texas has had a number of school shootings since the year 1966. During that year, Charles Whitman, an ex-marine, shot his mother and wife early in the morning. Soon after that, he took a gun and extra ammo and took them to the top of the Main Tower located on campus. From on top of there, Whitman injured 31 people, and killed 17 people, including a mother and her unborn child. This shooting is considered to be a mass murder, and the first public mass shooting of its kind.

In 2010, Colton Tooley, a 19-year-old mathematics major, took an assault rifle and started shooting randomly all over campus. The thing is, Tooley never put a bullet in anyone, just shot near people and on sidewalks. But he took his life in the campus library a little while later. In 2017, Kendrix J. White, a student attending the university, stabbed four people, killing one of them and injuring the rest. White, who had not acted in a threatening manner at all, walked calmly around campus slicing open unfortunate passersby.

Last week, I went to interview Mr. Wells’ eighth-period class about their thoughts of school shootings, and I found some very intriguing responses from the students. Some of them could name well known names of school shootings that had spread like wildfire across the country. One example was the school shooting in Florida that occurred earlier this year, where at least 17 people died from being shot. I informed them on other school shootings, such as the shooting with the six-year old boy and the six-year old girl, and they were shocked such violence could occur with such small children. I also told them about the University of Texas shooting in 1966, and most of them had never heard of this horrific event.

I’m sure most people have never heard of most of the shooting events mentioned in these articles, which is just the problem, and why people keep dying against their own classmates. America and their citizens are ashamed that guns are even being introduced inside of a school building, but if we do not talk about what is really going on, and what really happened in the past with dangerous shootings, we will only come out with the same results. More students and adults dying, more loss, more grieving.

So, tell your parents, your siblings, your friends and family, your classmates and teachers about what is really happening with school shootings around the country. Because the only way problems are solved are if they are talked about. And if we do not communicate, who knows where this country will end up on the violence scale.