As school shootings continue to plague the United States, concerned citizens are demanding solutions, such as gun law reform and better mental health treatment. But one teacher has an idea that could be much simpler than that.
Let’s take a look at this teacher’s surprising solution for curtailing school shootings. We’ll also share some gun statistics that are almost too shocking to believe (page 8).
The proposed solution is less controversial
In the wake of any school shooting or violent incident, one of the first reactions is a cry for stricter gun laws and a ban on certain weapons, such as automatic rifles. Proponents of gun reform claim that kids and criminals can get their hands on guns way too easily. But pro-second amendment folks say that anyone intent on breaking the law will find a way, whether certain weapons are illegal or not.
But the beautiful thing about this teacher’s solution is that it has nothing to do with guns. It can be implemented whether gun laws change or they don’t.
Next: This teacher’s simple solution focuses on the kids.
The simple idea is going viral
Reader’s Digest shared the first-person account written by New York Times best-selling author Glennon Doyle Melton. She went to her son Chase’s classroom to learn long division and wound up getting a lesson in empathy.
Chase’s fifth-grade teacher has been conducting an exercise every Friday since the Columbine school shooting in 1999. Each week she has all of the students write down the names of four students they’d like to sit with the following week and also nominate an exceptional classroom student. All of the results are submitted anonymously.
Next: The teacher treats potential bullying like a math problem.
This smart teacher is using math to solve the violence problem
It’s no surprise that Chase’s math teacher is using logic to solve a problem that seems unsolvable.
She isn’t looking for the names on the paper but is rather interested in which names never show up. As Melton told Reader’s Digest, the teacher wants to know who isn’t getting noticed, or who had a lot of friends one week and not the next. This wise teacher is looking for the kids who are falling between the cracks.
She figures out the most vulnerable kids in her class and then works hard to get them the help they need, even when they’re afraid to ask.
Next: Doing something is better than doing nothing.
There is no easy solution, but this is a start
While one teacher’s small act of brilliance may seem insignificant, helping just one student feel accepted could mean that tomorrow’s school shooting never happens. For whatever reason, shooters are seeking fame, notoriety, and attention. They may feel abandoned or ignored by their peers or parents.
One report showed that 1 in 5 students in the United States has a mental health problem, but 4 in 5 of those go untreated. That’s partially because one school counselor may be responsible for more than 500 students.
Next: These are the warning signs to watch out for.
It’s crucial to watch out for the warning signs
The National School Safety Center released a pattern of behaviors compiled from students and former students who have caused violent school deaths.
These include violent temper, bringing a weapon to school, serious disciplinary problems, being on the fringe of his or her peer group, bullying peers or abusing partners, preoccupation with weapons, expulsion from school, cruelty to animals, lack of family supervision, prefers violence in media, and depressed or suicidal ideation.
Next: There’s only one thing that can stop the violence.
Love is more powerful than hate
The best way to stop school shootings isn’t tighter security or better training for active shooter situations — it’s changing the potential shooter’s intentions from the start.
Some blame an increase in technology use and a lack of fundamental social skills for how teens and young adults are becoming emotionally stunted and detached from reality. The best way to change that is to teach kids empathy and compassion from the start — and to lead by example.
Next: Anyone can do this one small thing to help out.
The 1 thing we can control is how much we pay attention
Most American citizens don’t have the power to influence policy or institute stricter gun laws even if they wanted to. But the one thing we can all do is pay attention.
Like Chase’s teacher, we can keep an eye out for the kids in our classrooms, churches, and communities who are ostracized and neglected. We can teach our children to reach out and make friends with them. We can take the time to learn more about them rather than just ignoring the problem. The solution could be as easy as figuring out who is at risk for getting in trouble.
In the end, math might save the day.
Next: Shocking gun violence statistics that are almost too depressing to believe
Since 1966, more than a thousand people have been killed in mass shootings across the U.S.
It seems like each year we hear about multiple tragedies occurring at schools, airports, office buildings, or other public places. The headlines read “5 people killed” or “4 killed, 1 injured” — something along those lines. However, those numbers add up.
Since 1966, more than a thousand people have been killed in mass shootings in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Those people came from many different races, backgrounds, and religions, but they all fell victim to gun violence.
Next: There have also been too many mass shootings.
And there have been more than 150 mass shootings
According to The Washington Post, in the 50 years prior to 1966, there were only 25 recorded mass shootings. Somehow, that number multiplied roughly six times in the 50 years after. Many of the deadliest shootings occurred in the 2000s. And shootings at schools were few and far between before the Columbine shooting of 1999. But since then, it seems like they’ve become more and more common.
Next: The U.S. gun violence rate is far higher than this country.
In 2012, the number of gun homicides per capita was 30 times that of the United Kingdom
Sadly, there is too much gun violence in the U.S. — especially when compared to other countries. When it comes to gun homicides per capita, the U.S. lands at 2.9 per 100,000 people, as of 2012. The U.K. is nearly 30 times less than that, at just 0.1 per 100,000 people. Those pushing gun control laws have often brought out these statistics in Congress, specifically after the Sandy Hook event. However, it’s often to no avail.
Next: The U.S. takes the top spot for gun violence among these countries.
More people are killed with guns in the U.S. than in Canada, Australia, or the U.K.
The percentage U.S. gun deaths is staggeringly higher than in other well-developed countries. In the U.S., 60% of homicides were committed by a firearm in 2012 (the most recent year for statistics). According to the BBC, it was about half of that in Canada at just 31%. Australia saw just 18.2% of homicides by firearm, and the U.K. was a mere 10%.
Next: Gun violence occurs far more often than this.
There are thousands more homicides by guns than there are deaths by terrorists
The U.S. invests a lot of money into fighting terrorism. While fighting terrorism is extremely important and should be one of the government’s priorities, there are many more firearm deaths in the country than deaths by terrorism.
The average yearly number of gun deaths between 2001 and 2011 was about 11,100 people, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Council on Foreign Affairs. The average yearly terrorist deaths — when excluding Sept. 11 — was 31 per year. (With Sept. 11 included, the figure jumped to 517 per year, still far lower than 11,100.)
Additional reporting by Julia Mullaney.
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