In the past two weeks this nation, including Washington State, has been witness to the devastation that occurs when kids bring guns to school.
First the shooting in Bremerton, Kitsap County, shocked parents in Western Washington when the “shooter” was a 9-year-old boy who accidentally shot his fellow third grader, Amina Kocer-Bowman, 8, in the stomach. She is still in critical condition at Haborview Medical Center.
It’s hard to call this young boy a shooter when it is alleged that the gun went off accidentally while it was in the boy’s backpack. But why did he have a gun at school to begin with and how did he get his hands on that gun?
Just last week, an Ohio teenager went on a shooting spree at a suburban Cleveland high school where he shot and killed one other boy and left four other students injured before taking off.
The student was arrested later that day.
While these two shootings were mentioned on national news stations and in print media, it seems that shootings like these are becoming almost commonplace and seem to move off the “breaking news” list quite quickly.
Apparently both of these boys had social issues at their schools. No one knows for sure if that is what played a part in these shootings, but it is something that both boys apparently have in common.
According to the husband of the teacher at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton, the boy had issues in the classroom.
“I don’t know a lot about the kid other than my wife’s been coming home talking about him, and he’s been a real problem in the class, and she’s been very concerned about it,” Bill Poss told KIRO 7.
Students at the Cleveland area high school also mentioned the shooter as being a sort of outcast.
“He was not like a jock, a popular kid," student Evan Erasmus told a local news station. “He has friends, but he would be considered the outcast type."
Some of the students described him as “goth”.
The really disturbing part in this shooting is that the student tweeted that he would be bringing a gun to school.
None of the students took it seriously.
So, the question is what can schools and communities do to stop this deadly behavior?
First of all, students need to be taught that when a student threatens to bring a gun to school, that information needs to be taken seriously. Making an anonymous call to school authorities or police will save lives.
Also, students with “problems” need to be given the attention they not only need but also deserve. Counselors and other personnel need to be available to intervene with these students and staff should be taught how to handle these types of students.
I have seen firsthand, what a disruptive child can do to a classroom environment and how it makes the teacher’s job even harder than it already is, especially in times of overcrowded classrooms.
I was disappointed in the action that was taken by school authorities when the child was quickly returned to the classroom and continued misbehaving.
While I’m not privy to the type of parental guidance these two students had, I do know that in many cases, parents need to be more involved in their child’s education and not use schools as a babysitter for their child.
More parent involvement, stricter rules and regulations for disruptive children including follow-through from staff, and training fellow students to report suspicious behavior including conversations that may seem harmless, are all important parts of the equation when it comes to keeping our children safe at school.
I would really hate to see metal detectors and a larger police presence at the schools in our area due to problems in schools in other areas.