By Debra Kate Schafer
When it comes to looking at school shootings, numbers are important.
How many people died? How many bullets were fired? How old was the shooter? How old were the victims? How many days has it been since the last school shooting in the United States? Whatever the question may be, the numbers matter.
Ten. That is the number of years it took my mother to get pregnant with her only child.
Twenty. That is the number of years it has been since the Columbine High School massacre, one of the deadliest school shootings in the United States.
One. There is a single year between the Columbine shooting and the day I was born. April 20, 1999 and April 20, 2000 — a day that means a lot more to me and the world than just a birthday.
My mother did everything she could to have a child and prayed that one day she’d bring a healthy child into to the world, so I can only imagine how happy she was when she found out that she was finally pregnant with a baby girl.
I can also imagine her fear on April 20, when she went into labor a month early and spent a majority of her time in the hospital watching the recounting of the massacre at Columbine HighSchool that happened just one year prior.
She recalled telling my father, “I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world like that one,” to which she believes he said something along the lines of, “Don’t worry about that now,It’s a new millennium.”
But two decades later, we see little change. I grew up in a world that my mother was hoping would be less violent and worrisome. I grew up with active shooter drills and classroom lock-downs. I grew up participating in marches against gun violence. I grew up with #Pray for__ on social media.
Sandy Hook rattled me as a preteen and Parkland hit too close to home. Kids
my age are afraid of going to school. Fifty years ago, kids weren’t afraid to ride their bikes across town by themselves. Now they’re afraid to step into an what’s supposed to be a safe educational facility.
Unfortunately, this past year was dubbed the worst year for school shootings.
BBC published an article on Dec. 12 that read, “At the beginning of 2018, Education Week, … began to track school shootings —and has since recorded 23 incidents where there were deaths or injuries. With many parts of the US having 180 school days per year, it means, on average, a shooting once every eight school days.”
In 2018, 23 incidents had some form of casualties. One shooting with casualties
every eight days. That’s less than every two school weeks. Not to mention all of the damage these events do to mental health. That’s another story altogether.
My point is, if we don’t focus in on these vital numerical aspects of the tragedies in this country, we may never be able to fully grasp their effect. Gun control is not a matter to be dealt with lightly. We need to look at all of the facts and act on what’s wrong with them in order to make sure that gun violence in schools and elsewhere diminishes along with the fear that comes with it.
It’s been 20 years since the Columbine shooting, and thing haven’t gotten better.
But I know that my generation and I will be the ones who will make a change. It is important for us to remember April 20 as a way of figuring out what needs to change, rather than be reminded of how far we have yet to come.
Students share opinions around campus
Should there be more awareness for gun safety in schools?