School shooting

Connecticut School Shooting: 18 Children Dead

By Richard Console on December 14, 2012 - Comments off

Adam Lanza opened fire at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school this morning. Current reports assert at least 26 students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School lost their lives, according to NBC news. NBC further reported that Lanza was found dead inside the school with at least two firearms. It is believed that before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School, Lanza had fatally shot his mother.

My heart aches to hear of yet another school shooting, the chaos and fear of which no child and parent should ever have to endure. As some children were rushed to safety, parents desperately waited to hear of their loved ones’ fates.  As the tragedy unfolds, the entire school system remains on lockdown.

Newtown Tragedy Adds to This Year’s Sobering Statistics

Sandy Hook is a K-4 school with about 600 students, and some of these children may never fully recover from being subjected to this utter terror. What happens when schools re-open and they are expected to go about their daily routines in a building now associated with screams and death? The local Newtown Bee has posted a photo of a line of crying, frightened young students holding hands as they escaped the multiple rounds of gunshots that sent these innocent children and their parents into hysterics.

The United States has experienced a number of mass shooting rampages this year. Just this Tuesday two people were killed before the gunman took his own life in an Oregon shopping mall. The mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado in which 12 people died still burns in the memories of many. At 26 and counting, today’s tragedy more than doubles the death toll of the Colorado shooting, and to the victims and their families is just as senselessly horrible. My sincere thoughts go out the traumatized community of Newtown as they cope with this alarming breach of safety.

Do Schools Need Greater Safety Measures?

Schools have an obligation to provide safe environments to their students and staff. Ensuring safety prevails often includes having security personnel on the premises during school hours, which is the case in hundreds of high schools across the nation. While the security personnel may be present in high schools to protect the students from each other as much as from outside threats, shouldn’t these same proactive measures be in place at elementary schools to protect young children who cannot protect themselves? This tragedy should prompt school systems across the nation to re-evaluate their current security and think about heightening protection for their students.

Photo Credit: William Whitehurst/Corbis

 

Did Foster the People Foster the Shooting?

By Richard Console on February 28, 2012 - Comments off

I was horrified to hear about another school shooting today. This time it occurred in the small Ohio town of Chardon. At around 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time this morning a student entered the cafeteria at Chardon High School and opened fire. The shooter shot five students, leaving one fatally injured.

My most sincere thoughts are with the families of the four victims in the hospital and the family of the victim, who was taken much to soon.

Shortly after the shooting, police were able to ascertain the suspect, a sophomore, because he is a minor and no charges have been filed we shall withhold his name. The news has been full of stories of the suspect today. Students have been speaking with media outlets about him being a loner, coming from a broken home, and things of that nature.

I remembered reading in many of the news reports, including this CNN article, stating that the suspect allegedly posted the following photo on Twitter last night, and one student told CNN that, “I think he said that he was going to bring a gun to school and I think that everyone just blew it off like he was joking.”

Photo credit: IB Times.

Also leaked throughout the day online was the suspect’s alleged Facebook page. While only some information is visible to those who were not his “friend” on the site, there were some glimpses into this young man’s life. One thing you could see were some of the people he admires, including David Icke, a conspiracy theorist. He also had a list of several music artists he likes.

On the suspect’s Facebook page it lists the band Bright Eyes as one of his favorites. Here are some of the lyrics (typical of a Bright Eyes song) from their song “I Won’t Ever Be Happy Again:”

So, I mean, here we go, but there ain’t no escape. These streets are just dead ends, so I won’t ever be happy again. Now it seems that you too see a painful blue when you stare into the sky. You could never understand the movement of a hand waving goodbye.

The other bands listed included Adele, The People’s Key, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, and Blue Oyster Cult. That got me thinking about music and its effect on a person.

Recently there has been one song that has become increasingly popular for its catchy indie sound—even though it’s about a school shooting, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People.

In an interview with Gimme Noise, the band’s lead singer Mark Foster dished on the meaning of the song and where it came from:

The song is about a teenage kid that is trapped, isolated, and basically hates his life. So he’s pretty much fantasizing going on a killing spree. For me, I write in character a lot, so I like to write stories from other people’s perspectives. That song in particular, I was thinking and kind of burnt by ‘How often does this happen?’ More kids are getting guns, and shooting people, and these things are happening younger and younger, 14 or 13 years old. It’s turning into an epidemic for American youth. I wanted to infiltrate, and dig beneath the surface and get into the psychology of what’s going on in a kid’s mind like that.

While his mission seems that of someone who wants to change this ‘epidemic’ doesn’t the song’s upbeat tone undermine that? Have we as a culture become desensitized to these situations? Does the song glorify these feelings of emptiness and hatred?

I do not know the answer. At times like this, people seem to place the blame anywhere they can, and I am certainly not accusing these musical artists of causing this tragedy. I am merely wondering if these school shootings are still ‘isolated incidents’ committed by ‘seriously disturbed individuals.’ Perhaps we as a society need to analyze our own culture and think about what we are doing to drive these young kids over the edge.

Main photo credit: IB Times.

 

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