On Monday, October 21, 2013, a shooting occurred at a middle school near Reno, Nevada. There are few details at this point, but sources agree that a 12-year-old boy returned from fall break with his parents’ handgun. He shot and killed a math teacher, wounded two other students, and then took his own life.
Investigators are scrambling for clues about why this tragedy occurred. In the end, I suspect that the picture painted will be an all-to-familiar one: interpersonal turmoil, increased isolation, and easy access to a firearm.
While searches for answers and solutions continue and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel the need to point out the following:
- The homicide victimization rates for children and teens are approximately half of what they were 20 years ago
- The number of youth (ages 5-18) homicides at or near school also has been trending downward since the early 1990s, from 34 homicides in 1992 to 17 in 2010
I think it also is important to point out that school shootings in the U.S., like the one yesterday in Nevada and Columbine in 1999, are not new. CNN has compiled a partial list of them here, complete with infamous cases from the 1960s and 1970s.
The list also includes the case of 16-year-old Brenda Spencer, who, in 1979, opened fire on the school across from her house, killing two adults and injuring eight students. When asked why she did it, Spencer allegedly replied, “Because I don’t like Mondays.”