by Anne Porter
I graduated from Lafayette High School in 1995. When I attended high school, there were many groups who could be considered dangerous like the "Trenchcoat Mafia," and I have no doubt that other people could attest to the fact that their high schools had the same "dangerous" groups. The reason for that suspicion is that these people have talked about gangs and fights between various gangs. Even when I was growing up in the St. Louis area, I remember hearing stories on the 10 p.m. news about shootings at local malls.
What I do not remember is being completely sickened by shootings of students and teachers at high schools, places where learning should be taking place.
Since 1997, seven major shooting sprees have been committed at schools.
October 1, 1997ÑA Pearl, Miss. 16-year-old male was sentenced to life in prison after being accused of killing his mother, then going to school and shooting nine students, two fatally.
December 1, 1997ÑA West Paducah, Ky. 14-year-old at Heath High School killed three students and wounded five others, leaving one female student paralyzed. The student is serving life in prison after pleading guilty due to mental illness.
March 24, 1998ÑTwo males, ages 13 and 11, shot firearms from a wooded area, wounded ten people, and fatally shot four females and a teacher at a Jonesboro, Ark. middle school.
As both subjects have been convicted of murder in the juvenile courts, they can be held up to age 21.
April 24, 1998ÑAn Edinboro, Pa. 14-year-old is waiting for a trial after allegedly shooting to death a science teacher at an eighth-grade dance in the banquet room before other students.
May 19, 1998ÑAn 18-year-old student, three days before graduating, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of a Fayetteville, Tenn. school. The student was accused of fatally shooting a student who was dating his ex-girlfriend and is currently awaiting trial.
May 21, 1998ÑA Springfield, Ore. 15-year-old is awaiting trial after allegedly fatally shooting two students and twenty other people at a high school. His parents were later found killed at their home.
Then there is the culmination to all these shootings which happened Thursday, April 20, 1999. Two students, 18 and 17, fatally shot 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School, then turned the guns on themselves.
These shootings, may have been, in the beginning, isolated incidences, but as their numbers grow and their results become more deadly, society needs to take a second look at what is causing these shootings.
Is it that parents and teachers are inattentive to students? Is it the acceptance of violence in our American society? Is it the belief that pulling a trigger will solve the problems when the world turns upside down?
Only one certain deduction can be drawn from these shootings and that is far too many teenagers have access to guns. That, I doubt, will be eliminated soon.
What I suggest is that everyone should take a look into their neighborhoods and their families. Look not for messages that someone is going to go out on a shooting spree, but for support and understanding and help in dealing with matters that turn worlds upside down.
By turning to family and friends, maybe Columbine will be the last of the shooting sprees.