Is School a Place Where Children Die?

Is School a Place Where Children Die?

Malala Yousafrzai
Malala Yousafrzai

Has going to school become a risk for our children, even in the United States?

This is the question I ponder after receiving an automated message saying that a threat in our district has resulted in increased security– even here, at our tiny elementary building in rural Vermont.

Of course there are no “even here’s” anymore. Shootings can “even” happen in first-grade classrooms during morning circle time in a “safe”  New England town, not just in crowded high schools across the country.

Columbine. When my husband considered shifting from elementary to high school, his safety was my first concern. Who knew that within a decade, violence wouldn’t be limited to teenagers.

Map delineating 387 school shootings since 1992.
Map delineating 387 school shootings since 1992.

“What will be our new normal?” asks a friend.

I think it has already come.

Sobering statistics creep up on us revealing that 387 school shootings have taken place since 1992; and that children in America are 13 times more likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized nations.

“I’m not going to school tomorrow, Mom,” my oldest tells me after we get the call about the threat. “What I learn in a day  isn’t worth my life.”

What about 14 year-old Malala Yousafzai–shot in the head for encouraging fellow girls to pursue an education in Pakistan? Shouldn’t education in the land of the free be that valuable?

Or have we become that cheap?

Kelly Salasin, lifelong educator, mother of 2, January 2013