To the Editor:
One of the most outrageous comments I have ever read about school violence appeared in your article “School Shootings in Policy Spotlight” (Oct. 11, 2006). A so-called school safety expert, Dewey G. Cornell, the director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginia, is quoted as saying that attacks by armed intruders on school grounds are extremely rare, and that, statistically, the average school can expect killings by students “once every 12,000 years.”
What a ridiculous comment to make. How about the near misses that could have turned out badly? More to the point, is this the only form of violence that is undermining public education? What about the estimated 160,000 students who miss school daily because they are being bullied, or the number of attempted suicides by students? What about the fights, or the guns and knives brought to school every day? What about the hazing and extortion incidents occurring in almost every school? What about school riots? How many teachers are injured or physically assaulted by students? And what about all the forms of violence that administrators never report?
When dealing with school safety, there are two approaches: being proactive or being reactive. Years ago, The School Principal’s Legal Alert suggested that the average lawsuit costs a district $250,000. Consider all the school safety training that could be accomplished for a fraction of this cost.
Target Consultants International
Center for School and Personal Safety Research
Massapequa Park, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the November 01, 2006 edition of Education Week as School Violence Needs A Broader Definition