Another School Shooting: I think we’ve missed the mark

Yesterday there was yet another shooting in another school. Today there is yet another debate on gun control. The left wants more regulation and the right wants more freedom; whatever that means. If I thought for one second that public school violence could be solved with one debate over one issue, I may not be so burdened. I fear that when we draw attention to gun control, or freedom, we miss the issue altogether and prove to be a nation full of information but lacking in knowledge. If we desire to address any problem, we must look at that problem as a whole and not react overzealously to a single event. Instead of forming straw-man arguments against some religious communities or ad hominem attacks toward those with a certain political affiliation, why not actually observe the issue honestly?

The public school and violence

Prior to the 18th Century (the 1700’s), schooling was mostly private with a few private academies established where parents would come together to raise and educate their own children. The first schools of this type in America (before the Revolution) were established by Puritans and were established so that children could learn to read the bible. It wasn’t until Thomas Jefferson’s presidential term (1801-1809), that the United States Government called for a public school system paid for by taxpayer dollars. In the 1840’s, public schools finally began to be established. Schooling was still a community-wide event. In the 20th Century, the US Government really began regulating the public school system.

The public school system, as we know it, is essentially still a new phenomenon. If the first public schools were not established until the 1840’s, then the public school movement as a whole is only about 178 years old. Over those 178 years, people in the United States have been steady in their decline regarding intellectual pursuits (e.g. people have been getting dumber), with general intelligence losing, as a whole, about 1.16 points per decade according to a December 2013 journal publication. Over the years, then, the public school system has not helped to prepare a better-educated public. People were more intelligent when training was done in the home, particularly in religious homes and private ‘schools’ made up of families all working together to train their children. This is not to say that public schools are to blame because I do not think they are. To point out a correlation is not synonymous with drawing a connection for causation. It still remains that the public school system has not been helping for its entire 178 years overall. I wonder how the trend in violence among teenagers and teachers corresponds to the still new public school phenomenon.

The earliest report of a school shooting reported the event taking place on July 26, 1764, before the public school system was established 80 years later. This was also an incident of the Pontiac’s War and was not a school shooting as we think of them today. The earliest report of a student (or teacher) carrying a gun to school for the purpose of shooting another claims the event taking place on November 2, 1853, because a student perceived a schoolmaster as being too abusive. If the first public schools were established in the 1840’s, the first school shooting as we think of them today took place about 10 years later. The majority of attacks in schools during the 1800’s were by students carrying knives. Mass killings in schools were mostly explosives-related in the 1800’s. The first mass shooting was perpetrated by a seventy-year-old wielding a shotgun on a Catholic school playground. Before semi-automatic weapons (firearms some oddly refer to as assault weapons) were commonplace, mass killings on school grounds were still a problem. Violence along with mass killings on school grounds continue to be a problem after 160 years. 160 years, and no answer has helped. This, again, is correlation, not necessarily causation. It does demonstrate that simply talking about more regulations on the owning of firearms will not solve this issue because it was an issue before the common ownership of the type of firearm most commonly used in these mass killings today.

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Every century since the advent of the public school as we know it saw an exponential increase in mass public school killings with the 2000s currently on par with the 1900s, as is the percentage of public school enrollment and as general intelligence continues to decrease. At the same time, the numbers of people who own guns are decreasing and are far less than they were in the 1700’s. The percentage of people attending church is also decreasing. These numbers, again, are only correlation and are not meant to insinuate any causation. It might also be noted that these numbers concern broad characteristics and are not meant to provide precise statistics regarding types of firearms, the regional locations of public schools, or the denomination or religion of the church.

What this information reveals

As education becomes less individualized and less centered in the home, intellect decreases and violence increases. Yet, we desire to pour more financial resources into an educational system that is, to say the least, broken from its inception. I believe that teachers generally deeply care about their students and that they are not paid enough, but they are working within a system that is proving to be ineffective for whatever purpose it might be given. Public schools, whether or not they are the cause, have been breeding grounds for hate and violence since, essentially, they have existed. The more people who are enrolled in the public school system, the more violence, particularly mass killings within schools, has been reported and documented. The more people enrolled in public schools, the lesser general intelligence becomes.

There is a problem revealed, but it is not a problem with the right to keep and bear arms. The problem revealed concerns the human condition overall, which is a conversation easily subverted if we distract ourselves by arguing about guns. The American household has become much less religious and much less involved as a family. More parents are entrusting their children entirely to a public school system where hate and violence are the predominant features, with or without the presence of firearms. Strong families truly are the core of a strong nation. As more people are enrolled in school and less in church, the nation’s families are being separated while hatred and violence increase all the more. The more parents entrust the education and training of their children entirely to professionals and to a public education system, the more the nation falls prey to the breeding of hate and of violence. It’s not only the school system that enables parents to remain distant observers of their children’s lives. Video games, digital technology, and even family movie night make it all too easy for us to entertain our children rather than be an anchor in their upbringing with love and grace (love and grace are important). The fault, then, lies on our parents. The challenge is for parents to be a part of every aspect of their children’s lives whether or not they are in a public school. Be involved in their education, enjoy their hobbies with them, and include them in your responsibilities. One day, the world will catch up to the mandate given to parents in Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 5-6. The world is in desperate need of healthy families. Families need Christ to be truly healthy. 

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