The 2003-2004 school year is only a few weeks old, but a string of fatal shootings, stabbings and other attacks threatens to make it one of the deadliest in years, reports USA Today.
Since mid-August, when most students returned to class, the nation’s public schools have seen 18 violent deaths, more than in either of the previous two years. And that does not include about 50 non-fatal incidents.
Young people are dying at the hands of classmates, strangers and even parents in big cities and small towns. There have been shootings in and around high schools and middle schools in Chicago and Cold Spring, Minn., gang feuds in Tucson, stabbings and fistfights in Fort Worth and Green Cove Springs, Fla., and apparent murder-suicides in San Diego and Hopkinsville, Ky. Police have wounded armed students in standoffs in Spokane and Sacramento.
While there have been no large-scale shootings like those at Columbine High School in 1999, which killed 15, the high number of incidents is baffling experts, who say school violence is usually worst in the spring – pointing to a rough year ahead.
It also is raising a quiet alarm among those who work with young people, the paper says, while noting that federal crime statistics show that young people are still much safer in school than practically anywhere else.