In 2021 there were at least 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds resulting in 21 deaths and 47 injuries nationally, according to Google. This is the count from my search on September 27, 2021.
New York Times headline on September 24, 2021, reads A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021. The shootings never stopped during the coronavirus pandemic; they just became less public, researchers say. Written by Daniel Victor and Derrick Bryson Taylor
The debates always come down to the guns. However, we have looked at this problem so long we consistently fail to see the solutions.
“Students who commit shootings in K-12 schools are more likely to have a long history of rejection and lack a sense of belonging than are mass shooters in college and adult settings—but they are less likely to have experienced a sudden breakup or showed bad behavior that can serve as a red flag for administrators.” Education Week, September 8, 2021, A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection by Sarah D. Sparks
The Journal of Social Psychology, which compared the characteristics of 57 shootings on K-12 campuses with 24 college shootings and 77 mass shootings in other places since 2001, concluded the results provided in the article. In addition, it is reported there have been 15 reports of on-campus school shootings since the start of this school year.
The problem-we are failing to provide solutions to our mental health services, relationship building to support feelings of belonging and self-worth. We have placed social workers, school psychologists and even contracted with outside agencies to add additional help, but we are still not meeting the needs.
The ratio to the need and the trained staff exceeds disproportionately. Then when you look at the community resources, the need is extremely high compared to the availability of services or extended-care facilities.
In my career, I worked closely with those helping to provide the services needed to the community we served. Each year the needs seemed to grow, and resources shrunk. After I left my school setting, it was not long that I heard a news report of a young teen female stabbing a man to death in a housing project.
What is the solution?
- More mental health services
- Additional mental health resources
- Training for all serving in facilities with high needs (schools, Universities, Hospitals, Factories)
- Safety protocols
- Crisis training
- Regular check-ins
- Relationship building
- Clear communications
- Validation for all
- Inclusion and self-worth building activities
If I came to visit your place of work, could you introduce me to everyone by name and tell me about them?
Seeing my former boss reminded me of the relationship-building he did as people stopped by. He knew their name and stories about them. How validated they felt by the time they left.
One comment from one of his visitors was about loyalty. Loyalty is indeed built when individuals feel safe, respected, valued, and part of something.