The latest massacre of students in America has just occurred in a bucolic suburb of New York City called Newtown, Conn. Twenty-seven people died including 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10. The 20-year-old murderer, Adam Lanza, used semi-automatic weapons owned by his mother to do his dirty business. He shot over 100 rounds of ammunition while assaulting the children and then took his own life. Earlier, he murdered his mother. As the governor of Connecticut said, “Evil visited this community [on Friday].”
I was curious about the history of deadly crimes involving students. My research yielded the following chart, which lists the killings since 1996 in schools across the country. Some of the information was a bit sketchy, as you will notice. But, the chart surprised me in a number of ways, which I will illustrate below.
I altered the referenced chart in two ways by adding the ethnicity of the individuals from photographs and classified each incident as either a city or noncity event.
My observations are:
1) The vast majority of murders were perpetrated by white men/boys.
2) About 2/3 of murderers were committed by youngsters between 11 and 19.
3) A huge majority of murders took place in suburban and rural areas.
4) Many of the murderers took their own lives.
5) Almost none of the murderers planned an escape after the crimes.
6) I have no empirical data, but it appears that a large number of murderers came from problem homes and many of the murderers were troubled ... autistic, depressed, etc. Actually, this speculation on my part is not something that would surprise me.
After thinking about aforementioned data, I asked myself why there were not more incidents in urban schools. After all, the prevalence of illegal weapons is far greater in large cities. The conclusion I came to is that these types of crimes (of passion, out of depression, and the like) were not something that happens too often at inner city schools. School administrators anticipate violence in highly populated schools and so security is tight, and many children must pass through metal detectors that preclude the possession of weapons. The assaults in these institutions are more gang, drugs, and turf related.
The number people killed in this chart approaches 100. It seems to me that bucolic places like Newton and other suburban and rural areas of the country will now have to bolster security by adding more guards and even metal detectors. This latest incident, I hope, will be the last straw that results in action by the federal government. No neighborhoods are immune from this type of violence. A person, rich or poor, can be pushed over the edge. This might result in unbelievably horrible acts of violence against the most innocent members of our society.