Recently, there was a gun scare at my son’s middle school. Thankfully, the report of a man with a semi-automatic weapon on campus ended up not being a threat.
That afternoon, his backpack hit the floor and I asked, “How was your day?”
Shoulder shrug. “Fine.”
“I heard there was a lock-down at your school.”
Another shoulder shrug.
“Well, were you scared?”
“Figured it was another drill.”
“You didn’t think an hour was long for a drill?”
Yet another shoulder shrug.
“Where do you go when you’re in lock-down?”
This time I got an irritated sigh; a step up from the shoulder shrug. “We sat under our desks. What did you do when you were in school?” (Said in his snarky ‘you’re-an-idiot-please-tell-me-I’m-adopted’ tone.)
I paused. “We didn’t have lock-down.”
This realization spotlighted the gap between our generations.
Back in my day (now that doesn’t make me sound old, now does it?) I remember “stranger danger” as the big threat. Some pervert offering candy or asking us to help find a lost dog was something our parents feared. Now we hear about home invasions where someone breaks into the house and takes a child while the parents are home. Oh, and it’s often not a stranger.
We didn’t have cell phones or the internet (now I REALLY sound old!) but we were able to leave bullies behind when we left school grounds. These days, meanness has taken to social media where it stalks victims 24/7.
All this got me wondering if school shootings really happen more frequently, or if more media coverage makes it seem that way. Google led me to Wikipedia, where I found a lengthy list of US school shootings dating back to 1760. (We’ve come a long way from Dewey Decimal System-filed card catalogs.)
I scanned the list and made a list of shootings that have occurred on elementary, middle and high school campuses since the 1970s, when I began attending school. In my counts, I didn’t include suicides at school or teachers/adults shot by students or exes.
1970s= 9 shootings
1980s= 18 shootings
1990s= 19 shootings (interestingly enough, sixteen of these incidents occurred BEFORE Columbine)
2000s= 18 shootings
So far in the 2010s, there are 19 shootings. This is disturbing, especially since we aren’t even halfway through the decade.
I worry about my childrens’ future, but I have to laugh because each generation laments the next generation’s journey to Hell in a hand basket. The dangers seem more pervasive from one generation to the next.
Maybe there’s something to that. Maybe each generation can rightfully lay claim to owning the “good ‘ol days.”
Then again, I believe there’s always room for improvement.