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How Safe Are Schools?
In the wake of the spate of highly publicized school shootings from late 1997 through April 1999, I decided to try to find out whether schools and teens were as dangerous as our media have begun to make them appear. My quest took me to many internet sites. I've listed the most interesting here. Hopefully you'll find them as enlightening as I did.
If you are interested primarily in the list of facts that I prepared, click here.
Looking for a way to make your school safer and better? Read Joel Achenbach's piece in The Washington Post (March 26, 2001).
The Washington Post and ABC News commissioned a poll of parents and students in the days after the Littleton, Colorado massacre (April 20, 1999) to find out how they felt about their own schools.
- Here is the complete poll and its results.
- Here is the Post's story reporting the poll and its results.
- The Times' analysis is in an article titled Fear and Violence Have Declined Among Teen-Agers, Poll Shows.
- Here is an explanation of How the Poll Was Conducted.
- Here are the Complete Results (includes all questions and response statistics).
- Mike's books
Click here to read Jon Katz' review in Wired online
- Mike's online articles
- Drive-By Journalism
Rolling Stone's glam-crime reports misrepresent young people--and America's violence problem (1999)
- Adults' violence worse than kids (1997)
- Wild In Deceit
Why "Teen Violence" is Poverty Violence in Disguise (1996)
- Bashing Youth: Media Myths About Teenagers (1994)
- from The New York Times, May 9, 1999 (The New York Times requires a free registration before granting access.)
- some historical perspective
- some sociological perspective (from Jon Katz)
- from The Christian Science Monitor, July 27, 1999
- Vince Schiraldi of the Justice Policy Institute
- Everything you know about the Littleton killings is wrong (Salon, September 23, 1999)
- Now, a high-tech witch hunt for 'dangerous' students (by Jon Katz on October 29, 1999)
- While Columbine has received the most media attention of any school murder story, it was not the most deadly one to take place in the United States. That event took place on May 18, 1927 in Bath, Michigan. You can read all about it in the Wikipedia.
- The Statistical Abstract of the United States 1998
Section 2: Vital Statistics (Table #150: Suicides by Race, Age and Method: 1980 to 1995)
Section 4: Education (Tables 255 and 270)
- The National Center for Education Statistics
Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1998
Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1999
Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2004
Index of publications on school safety issues
- the FBIs Uniform Crime Reports
- Facts about school violence from the Centers for Disease Control
- School House Hype: School shootings and the real risks kids face in America
- boys run a much higher risk of death (from any cause) than do girls.
- the chances of a child aged 5-14 dying from any cause was 1 in 4,444 (1 in 3,745 for boys, 1 in 5,495 for girls).
- the chances of a person aged 15-24 dying from any cause was 1 in 1,049 (1 in 712 for boys, 1 in 2,079 for girls).
- accidents were the leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S. through age 24.
- children aged 5-14 are over 6 times as likely to die in an accident as to be murdered (6.16 times for boys, 6.8 times for girls).
- people aged 15-24 are almost twice as likely to die in an accident than to be murdered (1.66 times for males, 3.35 times for females).
- School House Hype: Two Years Later, a report from the Justice Policy Institute
- Jon Katz on the perils of attempting to profile kids
- The FBI's assessment of the use of psychological profiling to ID potential shooters
- Violent Kids: Can We Change the Trend? a report from Public Agenda Online
- The Los Angeles Times looks in depth at one of the nation's first school shooters, and the aftermath of his crime
- The New York Times' series of articles on rampage killers (a free registration is required for access)
- The Why Files looks at school safety issues
- Information Please Online's School Violence Timeline
- Kids & Violence, a spirited discussion on NPR's Talk of the Nation (April 19, 2000)
This discussion is available online in RealAudio format. To hear it, you'll need to have the RealAudio plug-in installed for your browser.
- The major news media have created online sections devoted to their school violence reporting. Here are links to them.
- The New York Times (includes lesson plans)
- National Public Radio
- The Washington Post
- Television Network News
- PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
- 10 Years after Columbine
- A Mother's Reckoning
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original web posting: Tuesday, May 4, 1999
last modified: Friday, February 16, 2018