School Shootings, Fear, and Homeschooling

In the wake of the recent attempted school shooting in Georgia, I read about a parent considering homeschooling in order to protect her daughter from the risk of school shootings. Here is an excerpt:

As homeschoolers lament, “this is why we homeschool”, one mother at McNair Elementary, said the following, “Honestly, it makes my not want to sent my children to school. It makes me want to homeschool my daughter.” “The fact that someone can come in a school and have an armed weapon, and me not be able to get to her and hold her and comfort her because I don’t know what’s going on with her.” I feel that maybe in my care maybe she’s safer”.

I wasn’t at all surprised to read this. After all, after Sandy Hook I watched homeschoolers go out of their way to capitalize on the shooting. This image, for instance, circulated facebook:

And homeschool leader Kevin Swanson had this to say:

Public schools are dangerous to body and soul.  If parents won’t pull their children out for the godless content of the curriculum (that erodes all reverence and recognition of God), then maybe they will do it for their bodily protection.   Don’t forget, the Columbine shooters referred to “Natural Selection” often on their web entries, and wore the moniker on their T-shirts as they conducted the executions.

Prediction: The homeschooling movement will grow in Connecticut.  I was Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado during the Columbine shootings, and home education inquiries increased 50% during the six months following the shootings.

Not surprisingly, this all perfectly matches my experiences growing up. Homeschooled K-12 myself, I knew kids who attended public school until Columbine, when they were suddenly pulled out of school to be homeschooled. Columbine made schools seem a dangerous space, and a significant number of families began homeschooling as a direct result of that tragedy. From a June 1999 HSLDA article:

While politicians and pundits debate the cause of the recent shooting tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, parents have decided to take matters into their own hands by considering home schooling their children.

Phone call inquiries to various state home school associations throughout the country have jumped since the Columbine shootings on April 20.

Due to fear of a similar situation many students fear going back to the public schools. There is some consensus among home schooling advocates that the Columbine incident has caused an rise in interest of home education as an alternative to public education. Joe Adams co-director of the Christian Home Educators of Kentucky is expecting a 25% increase in attendance for this years state convention.

Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) have been swarmed with inquiries. Calls have increased fivefold, from about 60 a month to over 300. CHEC holds monthly workshops to explain home schooling laws, curriculums and philosophies to curious parents. Participation grew from 15 in February to 45 in May to 500 for the June session.

In other words, the idea of turning to homeschooling in order to avoid the risk of school shootings is very, very familiar to me. I saw it happen after Columbine, and I’m not surprised that it happened after Sandy Hook or that it would come up again after another attempted shooting. But from my vantage point today, it looks a bit different. See, I happen to think that statistics, well, matter.

Number of children killed in school shooting each year: ~10

Number of accidental child gun deaths each year: ~60

Number of children killed in auto accidents each year: ~2000

A child is 200 times more likely to be killed in an auto accident than in a school shooting—and I should point out that the numbers for auto accident deaths only include children under driving age, and therefore do not include deaths due to risky teen driving. Why, then, is there talk of homeschooling in the wake of school shootings but no talk of giving up the car, or at least of giving up extraneous driving like vacations, out of concern about the much, much greater risk of child auto death?

Part of the reason is likely that auto death is a known enemy while death from school shootings is an unknown enemy. It’s also probably similar to the way people view air travel with trepidation when auto travel is actually significantly more dangerous—namely, every major plane crash makes the national news while car accident deaths are consigned to local news and treated as normal rather than sensational. But while it is possible to understand where this imbalance of concern comes from, this doesn’t change the fact that the risk of dying from a school shooting while attending school is far, far safer than stepping into a car—something we do all the time and rarely give a second thought to.

A child is also 6 times more likely to suffer an accidental gun death than to die in a school shooting—and to be perfectly clear, the stat for accidental gun deaths is only for children 12 and under, meaning that if it were extended to age 18 the number might well be higher. And yet many of the same homeschoolers who will point to danger of school shootings as one of their many reasons for homeschooling also own guns. Sure, they may talk about safety locks and such, but that’s analogous to putting security guards or metal detectors in schools, not analogous to responding to school shootings by pulling children out of school altogether. There’s just a staggering lack of consistency here.

I could go on. My point is that while I understand the emotional reaction parents have to school shootings, when you look at the actual numbers a child is far safer going to school than he or she is getting in a car or having parents who are gun owners. We all take some amount of risk in our lives—if we didn’t, we’d all be hermits hiding out in isolated caves. Since we’re not all hiding out in caves, I see no reason not to complicate the narrative that has parents examining homeschooling out of fear of school shootings. The fact of the matter is that a child is actually safer from accidental death or gun violence during the hours spent in school than during the hours spent out of school.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Lana

    Libby, you should copy and paste the image from here onto this post: http://www.wideopenground.com/public-school-tragedy/

    It was going around FB after the school shooting last December.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Done! Thanks!

  • Mel

    Here’s another way to look at it:

    There are roughly 5.4 million schooled age children in the United States. If 10 die in school shootings a year, then the probability of a child dying in a school shooting is 1:5,470,400.

    Reported child abuse deaths are around 1,545 children a year. That makes the probability of dying at the hands of your parents, guardians, or other adult you know 1:35,407.

    School shootings are horrible, tragic events. They are also exceptionally rare which makes the media roar even louder when they do occur.

    Child abuse deaths are horrible, tragic events. Unfortunately, they are not rare enough to lead to massive media coverage.

    • Composer 99

      So a child is approximately 150 times more likely to die from child abuse than from being shot at a public school.

      And which environment is more likely to leave children isolated with abusive caregivers, I wonder…? (Especially if HSLDA has anything to say about the matter.)

  • MyOwnPerson

    This is just anecdotal, but in my time with the homeschooling community it struck me that a particularly irrational set of people were the ones most likely to homeschool. The homeschooling moms I knew all believed in some sort of conspiracy or other and they were all irrationally afraid for their children’s safety. Not a good set of qualities in teachers, methinks.

    • Anonymouse

      That was my experience as well. The homeschooling moms happily believed in any or all right-wing conspiracies.

    • stacey

      Anti vaxx is big among the HS and USers here in Oregon. I don’t know any that are overly worried about safety, or into conspiracies, but they do believe a bunch of nonsense about vaccines and medicine especially. I guess its the liberal version.
      Then there are a few that just don’t like the structure of school and want to be with their kids. (I dont HS/US, but I would be in this category)

  • Highlander

    As a species we are terrible at assessing modern risks. Here is an article from psychology today about it: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200712/10-ways-we-get-the-odds-wrong. We allow our emotions, our preconcieved notions, our values and many other things to intrude into our risk assessment and get it all terribly wrong because of it. One of the points from the article above is that it is way safer for kids to smoke pot than it is for them to play highschool football, but we’d much rather our kids play a sport than toke a joint.

    • Alix

      And of course, culture helps normalize certain kinds of risk while rendering others unacceptable, and culture is a pretty strong force. Football? A major part of modern American culture. Smoking pot? Outside the boundaries of mainstream suburban culture, and thus unacceptable.

      • smrnda

        People who say that the only safe sex is no sex never say that the only safe football is no football, and kids die every summer in football practice.

      • Alix

        Yuuuup. Though I’ve heard “the only safe ____ is no ____” kind of thing for a lot of other stuff, when it’s a woman or queer person attempting to do it. (Most recently: the only safe hiking is no hiking, or hiking with a man along. Sigh.)

    • Norm Donnan

      In most situations this is true especially if they are thinking self harm you sound perfect,but if a person has decided to kill children i doubt they are in the frame of mind to stop and chat.I say nuke em and talk later.

      • luckyducky

        The shooting in GA last week shows that isn’t true all the time. You cannot state with any confidence what would have happened in either case. However, Tuff treated the shooter as a human being, talked him down, and got him to surrender instead of shooting students and staff and/or committing suicide-by-cop.

      • Lyric

        Except that Antoinette Tuff defused the Georgia situation just by talking. Never underestimate words; they’re one of the most powerful tools we have. Much more potent than guns, in the long run—and many times, in the short run, too.

      • Norm Donnan

        My 1st reply was supposed to be to you but it came up as to highlander.Your right in general terms but with the sort of mind that would do a mass killing there is too many lives at risk trying that one out unless you have no other option.

      • The_L1985

        I disagree. In the minds of a lot of these shooters, their lives are already over–by shooting them, you’d just be giving them what they want. If you can talk them down, you can help them get the mental-health treatment that they need and couldn’t get before (seriously, it is SIX TIMES EASIER for a mentally-ill poor person in the US to get a gun than to get mental-health care).

      • Norm Donnan

        True ,we are lucky in Australia to have free health care.

      • Lyric

        I disagree. Strongly.

        Look at it this way. If a person comes into a school to shoot it up, then violence is his home turf—he’s prepared for it, mentally and physically, thoroughly psyched up and at the top of his game. If I meet him with violence, he’ll reply with violence, and I’ve just bet a whole lot of lives on me being better at it despite his immense psychological advantage of being violent already.

        But if I can trick him into using words, then we’re on my turf. I have the home field advantage. And not just because words are my thing. Because I’m a civilized human being, and when civilized human beings want something, they talk for it. Every word that goes by without a gunshot, the shooter is acknowledging that, yes, words are a thing that works—he’s falling back into the habit of talking to people rather than shooting at things. He’s letting me choose the rules of the game, and my rules say that we talk. That’s actually an incredible amount of power, even if you can’t see it.

        Besides, every moment I stall him is another moment for the police sniper to get into position.

      • Norm Donnan

        Good theory,but some how I dont think he will come in and say,”hey you ,Im gonna shoot this place up,what do you think about that?”.So you can reply,”Well dude have you really thought through the implications of what your about to do,how was your relationship with your father,do you feel un-heard and under valued as a disenfranchised youth whose mom wont buy him an i phone ?”.No I think he will line you up and send you to meet your maker.Thats just me though,maybe your right.

      • Lyric

        Eh, maybe. Just because my way worked in Georgia doesn’t mean it’ll work on every shooter. I mean, let’s face it, either way my odds aren’t good; it’s just that I think they’re slightly better with words than with weapons.

      • Anat

        How many of the children you are presumably trying to save will die when you ‘nuke’ the attacker?

      • Norm Donnan

        The real question you should ask is how many children will you save by taking him out as quick as possible.

      • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

        Not many if you’re only concerned with “nuking” the shooter and not trying to avoid other people getting hurt

      • luckyducky

        So, who is going to be “taking him out”? Seriously? I am close to a very highly trained member of law enforcement — has spent 20 years in various capacities but not as a doughnut-eating-while-sitting-in-the-cruiser characture. In fact, he’s spent many years on a rapid response team and is his agency instructor on “less lethal force” for during stand-off situations. I spoke to him about responding to school shootings and he, who spends time not just on the range but in more involved training situations (i.e., tracking a suspect through a simulated urban environment) and has been involved in multiple high-stress situations, doesn’t see it as just “taking him out.” There is a very real potential of someone getting caught in the crossfire or shooting the wrong person because, in the heat of the moment, a threat is perceived that isn’t really there. Devastating if a beloved teacher or a darling 3rd grader is shot by someone who thought they saw a gun.

        Have some respect for how intense those who are actually responsible for responding to threats train to respond to them and their experience in reading situations and assessing threats.

    • luckyducky

      /tangent

      So, I am the same age at the Columbine students – junior in high school but abroad the year it happened. I suspect that being abroad actually meant it made a bigger impression on me than otherwise because I was with people for whom it was a completely alien idea… something that only happens “over there.” Anyway, came back for my senior year and they had done a minor remodel on the school specifically and obviously to reduce the “cover” for a potential shooter, classroom doors we locked at all times, and we started lock-down drills (doors closed, blinds drawn, lights off, hide in the corner), which I found very disturbing.

      Anyway, now my own children are the same age at the Sandy Hook kids and I understand that their school has (reinstituted?) lock-down drills. I was very opposed to this… at least for the kids, SH and the shooting in GA shows that the teachers and staff having training a SOP likely saves lives and being prepared *can* help reduce the fear of the thing itself. I fear that it normalizes that kind of thing for kids and I HATE the idea that they see school as an unsafe place. However, my child report that the lock-down drills are fun.

      Even though my older child was told about SH and has put together that with the lock-down drills and understands that the intruder could shoot people… but assumes that said intruder were probably be after “the money or something.” I am sure that is a much safer reason that “just wants to hurt people.” And apparently, she hasn’t also picked up that the schools are woefully underfunded and the “big take” would probably $100 from the ongoing candy (?!?) sales fundraiser.

  • Lyric

    The attempted school shooting in Georgia is of great interest to me, because it proves that a bit of calm courage goes a hell of a lot further than some idiot charging in with guns blazing. I’ve been maintaining, for a long time, that if I were at the mercy of a gunman I’d rather try to talk him down than rely on you (generic) and your carry-concealed permit.

    (Of course, that’s partly because I can do words. They’re one thing I’m actually really good at. Hell, I once had a calming discussion with a paranoid schizophrenic in the middle of an episode, who thought that people of my race were killing people of his race and storing them in meat lockers. At the end of it, he told me that I seemed like a decent woman and he hoped I would skip town before the racial holy war began. Of course, he also told me that there were microphones in the trees above us—that could have had something to do with my safety. But I don’t think that’s all it was.)

    Thing is, I think that a lot of these homeschoolers are your classic my-home-is-my-castle, siege mentality types. And I don’t think it works. I think that if you teach your kids to react as if they’re in a zombie apocalypse, that the people who want to hurt them are unreasoning and the only thing you need to know is where that chainsaw noise is coming from, you actually cripple their survival skills. Negotiation and empathy are powerful. We should do everything we can to foster their use.

    • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

      I’ve made the point a thousand times(and will make it a thousand more) but the purpose of “surviving” these perceived oncoming disasters, is to REBUILD society, and none of these survivalists types have any interest in doing that, they instead are all about “MINE, DON’T TOUCH, MINE!”

      • Lyric

        Most people look at me funny when I say this, because apparently the movie wasn’t that good. But one of my favorite pieces of post-apocalyptic fiction is the original short story of “The Postman.” Basically, the primary symbol of hope in a devastated, post-apocalyptic America isn’t a warrior, or a ruler, it’s . . . some guy delivering the mail. Because mail—communication—is so much closer to the essence of civilization than a man with a gun.

  • Alix

    …the kids in that sketch look demonic. >.<

    • Lyric

      Yeah, children in agenda-pushing art always look vaguely like they’re going to swallow your soul. See also Jack Chick.

    • Guest

      Thelittle girl looks surprisingly happy for someone who’s supposed to be afraid. Lazy.

      • Alix

        Their facial expressions and stances make it look like they’re plotting something. Like the whole exchange is in code. I keep trying to read their statements without emphasizing weird places, and I kind of can’t.

  • trinity91

    I honestly think that the school safety issue is MUCH larger than just shootings. Public schools have a really bad track record of dealing with bullying, harassment and sexual assault. They also tend to be really dangerous places for students who don’t fall inside the range of normal. Special needs children are targets of both teacher and student based violence and we do nothing about it. IMO the parents who pull their kids out of school because of school shootings are doing so because the school’s reaction to such a tragedy is the last straw. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to blame parents in Arkansas for example, where the reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting was to arm teachers, for feeling like their students aren’t safe in a room with an authority figure holding a weapon.

    I grew up in a school district that still allows teachers to hit students. This was used on my autistic brother because he couldn’t communicate to my mom what was happening. My mom found out about it because she was going on a field trip with my sister and had gone to get him out early after the field trip had ended.

    I feel like one size fits all solutions aren’t going to fix these problems. Maybe if parents weren’t forced out of the classrooms in public schools they wouldn’t have a sense of helplessness that leads to this sort of thing. I think public schools need to take student safety seriously and I don’t feel like they are doing much of anything to make that a reality.

    • Alix

      But I’m not sure just yanking out every kid who has a problem in school is going to solve anything, especially because a lot of parents really aren’t equipped to homeschool well. (That doesn’t even get into cases of abuse or deliberate educational neglect; it’s just that not everyone’s cut out to be an educator.)

      It also doesn’t help kids to end up in a bubble.

      I absolutely agree with you on the need to fix schools. The public schools I attended were reasonably good, with an administration that did its damndest to crack down on things like bullying … but it was also a school of four thousand plus students, and they couldn’t be everywhere. And, as you point out, there are worse schools out there.

      Maybe if parents weren’t forced out of the classrooms

      I must confess to being unsure where you are going with this statement. Parents should absolutely be involved in their child’s education and confronting teachers and administrators over abuse (including bullying), but they shouldn’t literally be hovering around in the classroom with them.

      • trinity91

        I didn’t say that homeschooling is the right solution for everyone. In fact I specifically said that there isn’t a single one size fits all solution to the problem.

      • Alix

        True, and I agree with that. I’m just honestly not sure what solutions you do see.

      • trinity91

        I think that homeschooling may be an option for SOME, not all parents, especially if the family is in a district whose response to this was to arm teachers. I think finding alternative schools to the district schools is another great option. As an example, my mom transferred my brother to a public (read not for profit) charter school and is much happier with the level of education my brother is receiving. My brother is thriving at the school because he is actually getting the help he needs to succeed instead of being abused. I think public schools would run much better if we took out district superintendents and instead had decisions being made by volunteer parents and teachers working together to implement policies on a school by school level. Different schools have different needs, and I think parents and teachers are much better equipped to talk about what the needs of their school is than a district superintendent who may not have any interaction with students in a classroom and therefore may not know what they really need.

      • Alix

        My only concern with the volunteer parent and teacher idea is that I do think there has to be some oversight to make sure both that educational standards and the needs of all students are met.

        I mean, we don’t want this turning into some kind of HOA parody, where the policies set favor the children whose parents are most involved, y’know?

      • trinity91

        absolutely, and that is what the state education department that actually doles out funding would be there for. The way I would advocate for the system would be a board made up of half parents and half teachers to be presided over by the principal and the vice principal of the school. Parents would put in an application with general information about their background, their prior level of school involvement, what grades their children are in, etc in order to be put on a ballot, and then when parents go in to do registration they would also vote for which parents would sit on the board. If the school does not get enough parental volunteers they could either opt to allow non parent community volunteers or additional teachers to fill the empty spots. With one year terms and the ability to vote the members out there is much less of an incentive for parents to make policies favoring only their students. Having teachers make up the other half of the board helps balance things out as well. The way I look at it even if a school’s board is exclusively made up of teachers and no parents choose to be involved, we are still better off than we are now.

    • smrnda

      I don’t recall any parents being forced out of classrooms when I was in public schools; in fact, parents were pretty involved. The schools never got enough parental involvement. My friends who went to private schools experienced the opposite – some of those schools pretty much told parents how to raise their kids.

      I’d also say that a school district that allows violence against students (masquerading as ‘disciple’ ) is probably a bad place to serve as an example for good policy. Some places are ahead of the curve in handling these things, but many do lag behind. Your brother’s experience seems awful, but there are schools that do a better job.

      • trinity91

        Your experience is becoming the exception. The new guidelines for teachers specifically talk about how to keep parents from being involved, including to tell parents not to help students with their homework. A friend of mine is a public school kindergarten teacher and the parents aren’t even allowed to come into the classroom on the first day of school to make sure their kids are okay. She has been told to tell any parents asking about being the classroom mom that they don’t do that anymore. The school refuses to fund a PTA and parents are not allowed to do any sort of fundraising at the school in order to pay for it. This is the difference between a good district and a bad district. We know full well that students, especially lower income students (which my brother is, and my friend teaches at an extremely under privileged district*) benefit greatly from parental involvement in the classroom and in their child’s education outside of it.

        *the average income of the parents in her district is ~$15,000 a year.

      • Alix

        On the other hand, there can be legitimate problems with parental help. That ban on helping kids with homework makes me wonder how often the parents have been caught out actually doing the work for the kids, or dictating all the answers to them – I know my school had to actually send out a memo about that at one time.

        I am also still not sure about this: “your experience is becoming the exception.” You’ve shown no proof of that, actually, just anecdotal information that cannot really be used to indicate general trends across the entire U.S. You can’t generalize just from your experience, and given that you’ve just argued against smrnda doing that, you ought to realize that.

      • trinity91

        This may seem tangential but have you read any of Alfie Kohn’s books? He is a former educator who now champions positive parenting and progressive education standards. He talks about parents being forced out of both the decision making process and the classroom itself in both “What Does it Mean to be Well Educated” and in “The
        Schools Our Children Deserve”. They would be good books for anyone with school age children to read, but particularly if you are interested in learning more about parental involvement in public education on a national level.

      • Alix

        No, I haven’t! Thank you for the recommendations.

      • stacey

        I love his writings, and this is the guy that ALL US and progressive HS people talk about all day long. I wish there were other people saying this stuff, when there is only one charasmatic figure like this, I wonder about it.

      • trinity91

        There are others, but his are the most well known, and I really prefer his writing style. I like that he doesn’t pull punches and that he calls bad practices out. Most of the people who write about progressive education are much more soft spoken than he is, and that’s just not my style.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Well that sucks. I only know about my school experience, which was *eep* 20 years ago. Parents were welcomed as class parents, though it was a low income school so getting enough parental involvement was the challenge. Most parents worked, so it was rare we had a library helper or anything.

    • Anat

      Another data point for parental involvement in schools. In my district all elementary schools encourage parents to volunteer at the school. Parents shelf books in the library, listen to kids read, help prepare the classroom for science labs, prepare materials and supervise art classes. There are also extracurricular activities that are run by parents such as Math Olympiad practice.

      • Things1to3

        We’ve been trying to get this kind of parent involvement at my kids low income school for the last five years. We’ve been told that we parents are not reliable, can’t listen to kids read without training and supervision (and there’s no money for the training), can’t help with art or PE, and can’t help supervise in the lunch room. School policy has been that parent volunteers are a liability that the school can’t afford. We’re finally getting teachers to trust a few of us to the point that they let us help out on small projects, but it’s taken a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of turnover in the staff.

      • Anat

        This is terrible, I’m so sorry! I’m wondering if there is a demographic difference between the staff and the parents, that the parents are treated with such distrust? This is so different from my experience. (Parents do need to undergo background checks, and have to read and sign rules which they are supposed to follow at the school, but that’s it.)

    • Lyric

      Maybe if parents weren’t forced out of the classrooms in public schools
      they wouldn’t have a sense of helplessness that leads to this sort of
      thing.

      The problem with saying that the schools would be better if there were more parental participation is that parental participation is profoundly income based. Back when I taught in a poor rural county, there were parents who had to get signed notes from the school saying they were at an IEP meeting to get time off from their factory job. As a middle class person, I found it downright degrading to treat an adult that way and I was really steamed the first time I heard about it. But there it is.

    • stacey

      I have never even heard of a school that didn’t welcome all the parent volunteers they could take! They sure aren’t forced out by the school. By their job, sure,but the schools would love the extra help.

      • KristinMuH

        My mother is a retired elementary school librarian and always had parent volunteers helping in her library. Some were SAHPs, some had non-traditional jobs or were unemployed or on disability. She worked in a low-income district, too, and the school definitely encouraged parent participation. But this is Canada – things are different here.

  • Gail

    Withdrawing kids from school following a school shooting doesn’t strike me as a very good message to send. First of all, it goes against most PTSD treatment. If you were held hostage in a bank robbery, the answer is not to never go to the bank ever again. You have to learn to deal with the small amount of risk that comes with daily life.

    Second of all, it does not address the problem behind school shootings. Say all children were now homeschooled and all the schools were closed–if someone is determined to commit mass murder, do you really think they’re not going to do it just because you’ve eliminated one possible target? More likely, they’d just choose another target. Eliminating brick-and-mortar banks might get rid of bank robberies, but will it get rid of crime altogether? No.

    • M.S.

      and ultimately, we cannot live in fear 24/7.

  • TLC

    So their phone calls and inquiries and attendance at homeschooling workshops increased after Columbine. But how much did actual homeschooling increase? The phones can go crazy, but how many of those callers actually changed something and started homeschooling their kids?

  • Meyli

    I think its worth looking at how those dangers are viewed. A child who dies in a car accident has probably been a victim of exactly that – an accident! How many car deaths are from malicious murderers?
    But a school shooting is no accident. Someone went there on purpose witha weapon, to kill children. On purpose.

    I’m not disagreeing that its statistically safer to attend school. I just mean that the dangers can be viewed very differently. If my child died in a car accident, it would be the worst I’ve ever felt. But if they were murdered by someone, it would (somehow) feel even worse. I can understand wanting to do everything I could to keep my kid away from a murderer (therefore staying with me as much as possible).

    I dunno; now I’m just very sad for families that actually have to think about these things.

    • coupdefoudre

      “A child who dies in a car accident has probably been a victim of exactly that – an accident!”

      I see where you are going with this line of thought (child murdered vs. an accident) but I think it’s important also to remember that not all car deaths are what we could call “accidents” – “crashes” is becoming the accepted use (at least by the NYPD). If your child was killed by a suicidal drunk driver going the wrong way on the highway, that is just as much a murder as a suicidal shooter shooting up a school. Sorry to be picky but I hate that we view car “accidents” as just a force of nature, something that happens. They’re not. Many are preventable, whether that is not drinking and driving, texting while driving, road raging, speeding, running red lights, etc.

  • Guest

    This just makes me feel sad for all the American parents. What a dreadful thing to think about, that your child might be shot while they’re at school. Of course, similar things happen in schools here with knives, especially in London, but it still makes me sad to think about. I can’t imagine how terrible it would feel, to have to consider your child being shot as a serious possibility. You all have my sympathy.
    People in general are pretty bad at calculating risk. Blame evolution, which makes us react much more to emotional appeals than to rational explanations.

  • smrnda

    There have been some relatively high profile cases of kids killed by home-schooling parents, so even statistics aside, it doesn’t seem like home schooling guarantees children will be safe. Just guarantees that if someone hurts or kills a kid, it’ll at least be a god-approved form of adult authority rather than the (as they often say) grubby secular school system.

    The other problem is ‘kid dies after parent or legal guardian beats kid to death’ is not an uncommon headline on the local news or crime section, but it rarely gets national TV news attention since it’s too routine and ordinary, unless there’s some unusual factor that makes it stand out (parents who kill adopted daughter using the Pearl’s methods are one example.)

  • InvertIntrovert

    One of the things that makes homeschoolers using Sandy Hook to score points not just sleazy but incredibly hypocritical is that Adam Lanza was being homeschooled by his mom at the time he went on his rampage.

    Obviously, I’d never say homeschooling caused him to do it. But since they brought up Sandy Hook, I’d point out that cutting a troubled young person off from the potential support groups and mental health services that a school can provide sometimes helps a bad situation deteriorate unchecked.

  • kisarita

    the statistics are imblanced. In school vs. anywhere, anyplace, anytime out of school is a skewed statistic. how about a child that is homeschooled ina low crime environment, in an environment without guns? and so forth. that would be a more comparable statistic. compare to a home with guns? compare to time of day etc.

    • David S.

      There are 64 million students in primary and secondary education in the US. 10 getting killed each year due to school shootings is a 1 in 6 million chance of dying. Any way you cut that, it’s pretty negligible. Pediatric flu deaths average about 100 a year. In 2009, 17,000 people ages 10-19 died, with accidents being the leading cause.

  • M.S.

    Wow great article. Thanks for sharing. I find it offensive actually that homeschoolers would feel “smug” after a tragedy like a school shooting. That little picture you posted is downright smug and offensive.
    What they are basically implying is that “good” parents homeschool their children and protect them from the potential violence that could occur at a school. All this does is add guilt to the already grieving parents of children victims of school shootings and/or add guilt to parents who send their children to school. Shameful

  • stacey

    Kids are more likely to be killed AT HOME than AT SCHOOL.
    And those safe HS homes, how many have guns?

  • Beth Clarkson

    This isn’t about school shootings so it’s a bit off topic for this post, but I thought you might find this article interesting.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/08/26/school_is_a_prison_and_damaging_our_kids/

  • aim2misbehave

    So a child is six times as likely to be killed in a firearm-related accident… and firearm-related accidents don’t happen in schools. And I’d hazard a guess that your average homeschooler is more likely to have guns, if not in their houses, in their friends’ houses, given the way that homeschoolers tend to lean politically…

  • scribbleprints

    Well, I think it depends on the school. There are some schools where shootings are common–where a student NOT getting shot (either at school or outside of school) during the school year is cause for celebration. For these parents, homeschooling or private schooling really does offer the child more safety. Though in many cases people who’s neighborhood schools are at risk at home too, part of home schooling in these cases is getting kids out of a culture of violence at their schools. But I realize they aren’t really the group of parents you’re talking about here.


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