U.S. school shootings a “tsunami” this term

February 7, 2022 - 17:36

TEHRAN- In another major sign of the gun violence crisis in the United States, new research shows school campuses have been the site of 141 shootings so far during the 2021-22 school year; more than at any point in the previous decade.

The figure has been compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, with experts saying there are signs emerging that the stresses and challenges of the pandemic are worsening gun violence in American schools.

Critics say the blame rests with the administrations of former U.S. President Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden, both of whom have failed to handle the pandemic leading America to become the worst country in the world in terms of covid deaths and infection cases.

Many experts and advocates say the U.S. was simply built on a culture of gun violence and it was inevitable the gun epidemic in America would reach such levels and beyond in schools.

This is while researchers who are studying gun violence in American schools are deeply concerned by what they describe as a phenomenon that will only get worse.

A week ago in Beloit, Wisconsin a 19-year-old former student was shot and killed after a high school basketball game and on Monday, a shooting outside Chaparral High School

in Las Vegas left three teens hospitalized.

On Tuesday, five teenage girls were shot and injured outside Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. Also Tuesday, a student was killed and another shot outside the South Education Center in Minneapolis, the only one of these cases in which suspects were arrested. Two students from the school have been charged.

But the pandemic isn’t the only reason for the increase in school shootings.

Problems that predated the pandemic such as inequality, inadequate resources and easy access to guns among other issues are said to have grown worse.

COVID-19 has introduced new challenges for authorities to deal with. according to recent surveys by the National Education Association. These include matters like the level of stress being created in American schools that half of teachers say they want to quit or retire early.

There are fear that there are now and will continue to be fewer adults connected to students who can see warning signs that a child may be heading toward deadly behavior.

Ron Astor, a school violence expert at the University of California, Los Angeles believes "kids are walking into a system that has been massively weakened, we're going to see a variety of different forms of gun violence and violence in general. We're in a situation where things are going to get worse."

Astor argues there are scores of different factors behind the violence, among which he cites the pandemic along with increases in overall community violence and breakdowns in family structures.

He says all these issues have created a "tsunami of mental health needs" in schools. And the problems are reaching the top of the hill as teachers and administrators are ill-equipped by the authorities to deal with the challenges because of burnout, lack of staff, and illness.

Analysts say successive administrations have failed to address these issues that should have been a priority because they deal with the heart of the problems in the community, especially considering the issues are one of lethal nature.

Astor says the problem is not necessarily too little funding, but also the missing human capital such as teachers, specialists, and staff who could help tackle the crisis of gun violence.

Other experts have cited another key factor in gun violence at schools as being the erratic schedules of parents during the pandemic. With rising unemployment and inequality rates there has been less oversight and less predictable routines for kids, making it even more difficult for parents, teachers, and others to see warning signs.

Many experts blame the easy access and availability of guns as another major factor. The past year has seen consistent monthly record firearm sales. Experts say far too many of those guns are not even properly secured in homes, allowing students access to firearms.

Advocates of gun control are calling on authorities to take immediate measures to tackle the school epidemic but many believe little action will be seen.

Meanwhile, in yet another worrying sign of gun violence, research by The Violence Project has shed new light on the upward trend of mass shootings in the U.S., finding that the number of Americans dying from mass shooters is on the rise.

The Violence Project examined 172 mass shootings which it defines as shooters killing four or more people - dating back more than 50 years.

It found that of all the mass shootings that took place between 1966 and 2019, more than half took place since 2000, with 20% of them occurring between 2010 and 2019. In the last five years of the study period, an average of 51 people died from mass shootings per year, compared with only eight people in the 1970s.

Amy Solomon, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs says "this study, one of the most extensive assessments of mass violence to date, reveals a deeply unsettling trend: more Americans are dying at the hands of mass shooters than at any point in recent history”.

Researchers analyzed data on mass shootings using a publicly-available database, which draws from open source material such as news reports and social media.

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