School murders in the United States are on the rise again, the Rocky Mountain News reports on the fifth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. In several places, plots to commit violence were broken up and police spoke of averting another Columbine. The News says that the word Columbine has become a layered sort of shorthand, encompassing both action and intent, as in “never again.”
In the five years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed a teacher and 12 classmates, schools and law enforcement agencies around the country implemented policies and procedures designed to prevent similar occurrences. Violence in schools has hardly gone away. Fatal shootings just tend to happen one victim at a time. Since Columbine, no more than two students have died in a single school shooting in the U.S.
Add up all the isolated numbers and this school year turns out to be the deadliest on record since Columbine, said Kenneth Trump, of National School Safety and Security Services. “The sad reality is that the spike in school deaths is not even on the radar screen of the general public, or even flying on the stealth radar of those who should be in the know,” he said. “In the couple of years after Columbine, we took five steps forward in the field of school safety. It seems as though we’re slipping, maybe 10 steps back.”
Federal data say that 37 students were killed or committed suicide in school or at school-related events in 1999, the year of Columbine. That number declined to less than half that every year since, until this year. Trump’s numbers, the most recent available, show that school violence has claimed 43 lives so far this year.