Tag Archives: School Shootings

Are we missing the danger caused by knives brought to school with the focus on gun control?

23 Apr

If a person is intent on harm, there are a variety of methods. Table 20 of the Uniform Crime Report provides those statistics. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20

Table 20
Murder
by State, Types of Weapons, 2011
 Data Declaration
 Download Excel
State Total
murders1 Total
firearms Handguns Rifles Shotguns Firearms
(type
unknown) Knives or
cutting
instruments Other
weapons Hands, fists,
feet, etc.2
Alaska 29 16 5 0 3 8 6 5 2
Arizona 339 222 165 14 9 34 49 59 9
Arkansas 153 110 52 4 6 48 22 17 4
California 1,790 1,220 866 45 50 259 261 208 101
Colorado 147 73 39 3 5 26 22 31 21
Connecticut 128 94 54 1 1 38 18 10 6
Delaware 41 28 18 0 3 7 8 2 3
District of Columbia 108 77 37 0 1 39 21 9 1
Georgia 522 370 326 16 16 12 61 83 8
Hawaii 7 1 0 1 0 0 2 1 3
Idaho 32 17 15 1 0 1 4 8 3
Illinois3 452 377 364 1 5 7 29 29 17
Indiana 284 183 115 9 12 47 36 43 22
Iowa 44 19 7 0 2 10 10 10 5
Kansas 110 73 31 3 5 34 11 16 10
Kentucky 150 100 77 6 5 12 13 24 13
Louisiana 485 402 372 10 8 12 28 29 26
Maine 25 12 3 1 1 7 4 7 2
Maryland 398 272 262 2 5 3 75 34 17
Massachusetts 183 122 52 0 1 69 30 22 9
Michigan 613 450 267 29 15 139 43 89 31
Minnesota 70 43 36 3 3 1 12 12 3
Mississippi 187 138 121 6 4 7 26 14 9
Missouri 364 276 158 13 9 96 28 42 18
Montana 18 7 2 3 1 1 4 5 2
Nebraska 65 42 35 2 1 4 7 9 7
Nevada 129 75 46 2 1 26 20 25 9
New Hampshire 16 6 1 2 1 2 4 6 0
New Jersey 379 269 238 1 5 25 51 41 18
New Mexico 121 60 45 2 2 11 21 32 8
New York 774 445 394 5 16 30 160 143 26
North Carolina 489 335 235 26 19 55 60 57 37
North Dakota 12 6 3 0 0 3 4 0 2
Ohio 488 344 187 8 13 136 44 80 20
Oklahoma 204 131 99 8 9 15 26 21 26
Oregon 77 40 13 1 2 24 22 10 5
Pennsylvania 636 470 379 8 19 64 73 66 27
Rhode Island 14 5 1 0 0 4 5 4 0
South Carolina 319 223 126 10 12 75 38 40 18
South Dakota 15 5 3 1 0 1 4 3 3
Tennessee 373 244 172 7 13 52 51 62 16
Texas 1,089 699 497 37 48 117 175 134 81
Utah 51 26 15 4 1 6 5 9 11
Vermont 8 4 2 0 0 2 2 2 0
Virginia 303 208 110 10 15 73 33 41 21
Washington 161 79 58 1 3 17 29 36 17
West Virginia 74 43 23 10 3 7 11 13 7
Wisconsin 135 80 60 7 3 10 21 13 21
Wyoming 15 11 7 0 0 4 0 1 3
Virgin Islands 38 31 27 0 0 4 5 2 0
• 1 Total number of murders for which supplemental homicide data were received.
• 2 Pushed is included in hands, fists, feet, etc.
• 3 Limited supplemental homicide data were received.
Data Declaration
Provides the methodology used in constructing this table and other pertinent information about this table.

Guns are not the only instruments of harm.

Evie Blad reported in the Education Week article, School Stabbings Signal Need for Broad Safety Plans: Experts question hyperfocus on guns:

Large-scale shootings have been a dominant driver of school safety debates, but a stabbing spree at a Pennsylvania high school this month should serve as a reminder that educators need to be prepared for a range of situations—including smaller, nonfatal incidents that don’t involve guns at all, school safety experts say.
Following most school shootings—like the December 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.—conversation quickly turns to the polarizing subject of gun policy.
And while some districts work to implement comprehensive safety plans that address mental-health concerns, school climate, and security procedures, policymakers often direct efforts and resources specifically toward the prevention of gun-related incidents, experts say.
“When we focus our policy responses almost entirely on firearms in these events, we overlook major things and we aren’t going to address the root of the problem,” said Laura E. Agnich, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
That narrow focus can lead to “knee jerk” responses such as overly broad zero-tolerance policies and costly building upgrades, instead of research-based school climate measures and carefully practiced safety procedures, Ms. Agnich said.
In the 2010-11 school year, U.S. public schools reported 5,000 cases of student possession of a firearm or explosive device, and 72,300 cases of possession of a knife or other sharp object, according to the most recent information available from the U.S. Department of Education…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29knives_ep.h33.html

NI Direct of Northern Ireland has some great information for parents about knife crimes.

In the article, Keeping your child safe from knife crime, NI Direct advises:

Know the law
Before talking to your child about knives, you need to know the facts:
• it is illegal for anyone to carry a knife if they intend to use it as a weapon – even in self defence
• police can search anyone they suspect of carrying a knife
• carrying a knife could mean being arrested, going to court and getting a criminal record, or even a prison sentence
• Knives, offensive weapons and the law (crime, justice and the law section)
Knives in school
It is a criminal offence to have a knife or other weapon on school premises. If a knife or other weapon is found on a pupil, the police will be called and it is likely the pupil will be arrested.
• School attendance and absence: the law
• If your child is arrested and charged
Talking to your child about knives
The best way to stop your child getting involved with knives is to talk to them about the dangers. This may not be easy as they may not want to talk about it, but keep trying as this is the first step to keeping your child safe.
You should remind them that by carrying a knife they are:
• giving themselves a false sense of security
• potentially arming an attacker, increasing the risk of getting stabbed or injured
• breaking the law
Keep a look out
Sometimes there might be obvious reasons for you to think your child is carrying a knife – such as a knife going missing from the kitchen.
However, there are other more subtle signs that you and the parents of your child’s friends can look out for such as:
• school’s not going well or they don’t want to go in to school at all
• they’ve been a recent victim of theft/bullying/mugging
• a different network of friends who may be older than your child…
http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/keeping-your-child-safe-from-knife-crime

The American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI) has a great discussion about the laws governing knives.

In A Guide to Understanding the Laws of America Regarding Knives, AKTI says:

Our Federal government became involved in firearms regulation in the early part of this century and continues to assume an increasing level of control as to firearms. Given the relatively long period of Federal involvement, the doctrine of Federal preemption, and the fact that firearms laws are for the most part based on purely objective factors, such as barrel length or action type, there is a greater degree of consistency among the laws of the various states as to firearms.
Such is not the case with knives. Laws regarding knives are a hodgepodge of legislative action, some of which dates back to the 1800’s.
A handgun “legal” in a given state would in all probability be “legal” in the vast majority of states. The law regarding what a person may or may not do with a legal handgun, for example, would vary considerably from state to state. The situation is slightly more complex in the case of knives. What constitutes a legal knife varies greatly from state to state and may depend upon objective standards, such as blade length, or more subjective standards, such as the shape or style of the blade or handle. As is the case with firearms, the law of the different states regarding what one may do with a legal knife varies.
The Consequences
Criminal prosecutions based exclusively on the simple possession of an “illegal” knife are rare. At least the cases that become reported seem to involve coalescent criminal activity. As a practical matter, the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures protects the otherwise law-abiding citizen who happens to be walking down the street with a pocketknife having a blade one-eighth of an inch over the limit.
This may give rise to a false sense of security based upon the “it can’t happen to me . . . I’m not a criminal” mentality….
However, a knife law violation is generally considered to be a “weapon” violation, which can lead to all sorts of disqualifications, ranging from acquiring or owning firearms to military service, as well as public and/or private sector employment. As an example, in Pennsylvania, it is a misdemeanor to possess any knife or cutting instrument on school property. There is also a law in Pennsylvania which disqualifies persons convicted of any one of a long list of crimes, from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, etc. any firearms….
Attend a PTA meeting or a high school football game with a small folding knife in your pocket or handbag, or even a tiny knife on your key chain, and you are subject to the same legal disqualifications meted out to murderers and rapists. If there is even a small knife in your pocket or car when you drive your child to school, or perhaps exercise your right to vote (many jurisdictions’ polls are located in school buildings), various rights which you may have thought to be “inalienable” may be in jeopardy…
Finding the Law
Knife laws vary from state to state, as discussed above. Laws are also changed or amended from time to time…
The individual interested in learning about the laws involving or pertaining to knives in a given state, or perhaps more importantly, in avoiding difficulty with the laws, should turn to the state statutes or legislative enactments, and in particular, those dealing with crimes. You may find that for a given state this would be described or referred to as the Penal Code or Crimes Code. Within this Code, you will likely find laws regarding knives under any of the following headings:
• Prohibited Weapons – Typically there will be a statute defining listing various weapons which are prohibited. As to knives, there may be specific size/blade length limitations. Often times there will be prohibitions against “dirks or daggers.” Switchblades or other knives, the blade of which is exposed by gravity or mechanical action, are frequently prohibited.
• Possessing Instruments of Crime – This type of law deals with the possession of an instrument not otherwise illegal but possessed under circumstances indicating intent to employ the instrument for criminal purposes. For example, a 12-inch butcher knife would be commonplace and unquestionably legal in a butcher shop or meat packing plant, but might be questionable in the proverbial dark alley at 3:00 o’clock a.m. This type of law is sometimes found under the heading of “inchoate crimes.”
• Possession of a weapon in a prohibited area – In most states, it is a crime to possess a knife on school grounds. In some instances, exceptions are made for small pocketknives. It is also a crime in many states to possess a weapon to include a knife in a court facility or some other government buildings.
• Transactions – In many states, it is a crime to engage in certain transactions regarding knives and other prohibited weapons or to furnish such items to children or persons known to be incompetent or intemperate.
Many state statutes can be found on the Internet. One good site is FindLaw.com. Click on “US State Resources” to find statutes and cases (if any) for your state. State laws can also be researched on the Internet…
Federal
The Federal government has cognizance over matters involving commerce among the states, Federal property and federally-regulated activities, such as aviation. This does not mean that if you drive from New York to California, Federal law governs the legality of a knife you may be carrying or your use of it along the way. The law of the individual states would prevail, although in many instances, there are exceptions for persons engaged in travel.
The Federal Crimes Code is set forth at Title 18 of the U.S. Code, and in particular, 18 U.S.C. ’930. There you will find provisions dealing with dangerous weapons on Federal facilities, as well as definition of what constitutes a dangerous weapon. Interestingly, there is an exception for a pocketknife with a blade of less than two and one-half inches in length. However, you must also observe that there is a difference between a Federal facility where a small pocketknife would be tolerated and a Federal Court facility, where there is a policy of “zero tolerance” regarding tools such as knives….
https://www.akti.org/legislation/guide-understanding-knife-laws-america

School violence is a complex set of issues and there is no one solution. The school violence issue mirrors the issue of violence in the larger society. Trying to decrease violence requires a long-term and sustained focus from parents, schools, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

Resources:

A Dozen Things Students Can Do to Stop School Violence http://www.sacsheriff.com/crime_prevention/documents/school_safety_04.cfm

A Dozen Things. Teachers Can Do To Stop School Violence http://www.ncpc.org/cms-upload/ncpc/File/teacher12.pdf

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide http://www.indiana.edu/~safeschl/psv.pdf

Related:

Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue https://drwilda.com/2013/11/29/violence-against-teachers-is-becoming-a-bigger-issue/

Hazing remains a part of school culture https://drwilda.com/2013/10/09/hazing-remains-a-part-of-school-culture/

FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
https://drwilda.com/2013/07/08/fema-issues-guide-for-developing-high-quality-school-emergency-operations-plans/

Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence https://drwilda.com/2013/08/05/study-1-in-3-teens-are-victims-of-dating-violence/

Pediatrics article: Sexual abuse prevalent in teen population
https://drwilda.com/2013/10/10/pediatrics-article-sexual-abuse-prevalent-in-teen-population/

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Horrific Connecticut school shooting: Is posting the Ten Commandments at school really the problem?

14 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Today there was another horrific school shooting. AP reports in the article, AP: 27 Dead, Including 18 Children, At Sandy Hook School Shooting In Newtown:

Twenty-seven people, including 18 children, have been killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to the Associated Press.

The report cites an official with knowledge of the situation.that there are at least 20 shooting victims. Many of the shootings took place in a kindergarten classroom, sources said. One entire classroom is unaccounted for, sources said. http://www.courant.com/news/breaking/hc-police-responding-to-incident-in-newtown-20121214,0,3969911.story

Here is a partial list of school shootings from the last 20 years:

CNN) — Here is a list of some violent incidents at U.S. schools over the last 20 years:

February 27, 2012 – Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio. Student Daniel Parmertor, 16, is killed and four others wounded when student T.J. Lane opens fire in the school, authorities say. On February 28, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, dies from his wounds, and Russell King Jr., 17, is declared brain-dead. On March1, T.J. Lane is charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two of attempted aggravated murder and one of felonious assault.

October 2, 2006 – West Nickel Mines School, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Charles Roberts IV, 32, goes to the small Amish school and takes at least 11 girls hostage. Five girls were killed and six others wounded. Roberts then killed himself.

November 8, 2005 – Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Jacksboro, Tennessee. A 15-year-old student opens fire on a principal and two assistant principals, killing one of them and critically wounding another, authorities said.

March 21, 2005 – Red Lake High School, Red Lake, Minnesota. Jeff Weise, 16, kills his grandfather and another adult, four fellow students, a teacher and a security officer. He then killed himself.

March 5, 2001 – Santana High School, Santee, California. Charles “Andy” Williams, 15, kills two classmates, a 14-year old and a 17-year old, and injures 13. Williams is sentenced in 2002 to at least 50 years in prison.

April 20, 1999 — Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, kill 12 fellow students and one teacher before committing suicide in the school library.

May 21, 1998 – Thurston High School, Springfield, Oregon. After killing his parents the previous day, 15-year old Kip Kinkel returns to Thurston High armed with a rifle. He kills two students in the school cafeteria, a 16- and a 17-year old. He is sentenced to 112 years in prison.

March 24, 1998 – Westside Middle School, Jonesboro, Arkansas. Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, ambush fellow students and their teachers, killing five. Johnson is incarcerated in a youth facility and released on his 21st birthday in August 2005. Golden is released on his 21st birthday in May 2007.

December 1, 1997 – Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky. Michael Carneal, 14, opens fire on a school prayer group, killing three girls. He is serving life in prison.

February 2, 1996 –– Frontier Junior High School, Moses Lake, Washington. Barry Loukaitis, 14, takes a rifle to school and kills two classmates and a teacher. He was sentenced to life in prison.

May 1, 1992 – Lindhurst High School, Olivehurst, California. Eric Houston, a 20-year old dropout, returns to his old high school and kills a former teacher and three students. Houston is sentenced to death.

February 26, 1992 – Thomas Jefferson High School, Brooklyn, New York. A 15-year old shoots and kills two other students. The shooter, Kahlil Sumpter, was sentenced in 1993 to between 6 2/3 and 20 years in prison. He was released in 1998. http://fox8.com/2012/12/14/history-of-school-shootings/

See, Time Line of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html#ixzz2F3UWDwnB

At the Anti-Defamation site in the article, The Ten Commandments Controversy: A First Amendment Perspective:

In the majority of cases considering official posting of the Ten Commandments, the Court has extended this prohibition. In its 1980 (Stone v. Graham) decision striking down a Kentucky law requiring that a copy of the Ten Commandments be posted in every public school classroom, the Court said:

The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one’s parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, and covetousness. Rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day.

The Court recently issued two decisions concerning official display of the Ten Commandments with differing results. In McCreary v. ACLU of Kentucky, the Court considered county courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky. Similar to the Stone decision, it again recognized that the Ten Commandments is “… an unmistakably religious statement dealing with religious obligations and with morality subject to religious sanction.” The Court ultimately decided that the displays were unconstitutional because their history and context demonstrated a clear religious purpose and intent on the part of county officials.

In Van Orden v. Perry, the Court considered a forty-year-old granite Ten Commandments monument on the Texas capitol grounds – one of seventeen monuments on the broad plaza. Reaching an opposite result, the Court decided that this display is constitutionally permissible. However, Justice Breyer, who cast the deciding vote in the case, characterized the display as “borderline” and found that it served “a mixed but primarily nonreligious purpose.” Significantly, as with the McCreary decision, a majority of the Justices indicated that displays in public schools likely will be unconstitutional. In other situations, a display or posting’s location, history and context will be critical in determining its constitutionality. http://www.adl.org/10comm/print.asp

There are pros and cons of posting the Ten Commandments or any other statement of values.

The blog TresSugar posted a good summary of the pros and cons of posting the Ten Commandments:

PRO 1

Our government was based on religious principles from the very beginning. The 10 Commandments are the foundation of our moral government.

CON 1.1

Having religious principles does not mean that they wanted to use the government to force religion on the country. The ratification of the constitution by the states was held up because it didn’t have a written list of basic rights that couldn’t be taken away. The very first line in the Bill of Rights reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. After these were assured only then was the constitution ratified.

PRO 2

Since the court outlawed prayer, the nation has been in steady moral decline. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett revealed in his cultural indexes that between 1960 and 1990 there was a steady moral decline. During this period divorce double, teenage pregnancy went up 200%, teen suicide increased 300%, child abuse reached an all-time high, violent crime went up 500% and abortion increased 1000%. There is a strong correlation between the expulsion of prayer from our schools and the decline in morality.

CON 2.1

If you go back the other way in time, do you find higher morals in slavery, or our treatment of Indians, or more recently, Jim Crow laws in the South, or official discrimination against women or children being used as cheap labor?

CON 2.2

The Census Bureau reports that 63 percent of the population claims church membership, a figure that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1960 census.

CON 3

The BILL OF RIGHTS was designed to protect the minorities basic rights from the majority. In the case of religion “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It says its against the constitution to prohibit free exercise of religion. Free is a key word here, state supported religion is not “FREE EXERCISE” its “FORCED RELIGION” and that is prohibited.

PRO 4

Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., a cheerleader for the measure, reportedly said that if the Ten Commandments had been posted at Columbine, the shootings would never have taken place.

CON 4.1

The boy who shot six of his fellow students in Barr’s home state of Georgia had attended a church service the night before.

CON 5

The book of EXODUS has two completely different versions of the 10 Commandments. EXODUS 20 and EXODUS 34. One Commandment that is common to both versions is keeping the Sabbath. In EXODUS 35 Moses tells the people that those who break the Sabbath, even lighting a fire in their homes, should be put to death. Will this Commandment teach our kids about ignoring inconvenient rules?

PRO 6

All that we would like to do is give the kids a foundation for moral behavior. This is not an evil conspiracy, its an attempt to make things better and safer for all kids.

CON 7

“This is about the government playing favorites and saying Judaism and Christianity are the appropriate religions and everyone else is wrong,” explains Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU attorney. “That’s not moral guidance, it’s dividing the people on the basis of religion.”

CON 8

The 1st Commandment says “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”. I believe some reasonable people might consider this “establishment of religion”. http://religions-of-the-world.tressugar.com/Pro-Con-Ten-Commandments-posted-schools-6229083

In the attempt to eradicate all vestiges of religion from the public square, this society has thrown out a good deal of the values and moral principles which are the glue that holds a society together. Note the time line of school shootings after the 1980 Stone v. Graham case. Values education in schools should be a part of the curriculum.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Resources:

Teaching Values in School: An Interview with Steve Johnson http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v13n1/interview.html

Integrating values and ethics into post secondary teaching for leadership development Principles, concepts, and strategies http://www.ed.psu.edu/educ/for-current-faculty-and-staff/strategic-plan-folder/prof-ethics-study-team/Appendix%20C%20-%20Ethics_Begley.pdf

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