America must make schools safer

The recent images of children and adults fleeing a school under siege didn’t quite overwhelm me as I watched them flash across the news. It felt more like a really bad case of deja vu.

I knew I had watched a school hostage situation play out before on television. And I know that I may see it play out again because the United States has failed to fix a problem.

America’s schools are not considerably safer since the school violence began in 1997 and are not on a path to become so.

After the attack on a Russian school left over 300 people dead, the half-healed wounds of America’s own legacy of school violence have become visible again.

The recent release of a grand jury’s findings about the flaws within the Columbine school shooting case also serves as a reminder that we are not too far removed from the events that once shook the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has retreated from intensive efforts to understand the psyche and effects that lead to and result from this type of violence.

These efforts must once again become a focus in order to protect our youth – from each other. As we all recall, it was teens killing teens, and that ism and will always be, a scary and dangerous thought.

As we approach the Oct. 1 anniversary of the 1997 high school shooting in Pearl, Miss., the beginning of a painful and volatile time in our nation’s history, we must take time to recognize the loss of the lives and the innocence of our nation’s youth.

A lot of the neglect that this issue has experienced is attributable to the emergence of Sept. 11 and the problems that have come into play since then. However, one evil act does not negate the effects of another.

It is rather ironic that massive pre-emptive measures have been employed to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11 tragedy. But a tenth of that effort has not been reserved to prevent another tragic period in U.S. history. We must not let the safety of America’s schools take a backseat to international terrorist threats because the bombs and bullets hurt no less when they come from our own youths.

It has been five years since Columbine and seven years since Pearl. But there may be far less time before America is forced to deal with the repercussions of such violence unless we give this issue the attention it deserves.

America’s schools are not safe and the past has shown that neglecting the issue can be extremely costly. We must make changes now because we can not afford to be too late – again.

Jason E. Hutchins is a senior business administration student. He is the opinions editor for The Famuan. Contact him at