Student Killers Get Younger as School Violence Escalates Across U.S.

Human Rights

The murders of two teachers in two separate incidents this week committed by juveniles less than three days apart, has prompted calls to re-evaluate our polices to end school violence and increase school safety once and for all. 

School killings continue to be an ongoing problem in the United States and the age of those responsible for committing such atrocities is often shockingly low, as the latest string of violence illustrates.

This week, a 14-year-old boy is facing a murder charge after a math teacher was found dead in the woods near Danvers High School in Massachusetts, CBS News reported.  It has not yet been reported how 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer died, although blood was reportedly found in the school bathroom.

Ritzer is the second teacher this week to be killed by a student in the United States. On Monday in Sparks, Nevada, a 12-year-old boy opened fire on his teacher, Michael Landsberry and class mates, killing the teacher and injuring two other students, before turning the gun on himself, CNN reported.  The boy had obtained the handgun from his parents, who are said to be cooperating with police and may face charges themselves.

The issue of leaving guns where young hands can get hold of them is an ongoing one, with Gawker reporting today that a 5-year-old shot himself in the head after finding his babysitter's gun. Such incidents stimulate national outcry about gun control, yet the well-funded, regimented NRA and its supporters continue to come out on top.

The Nevada shooting comes almost a year after a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, which caused national public outrage over school violence and gun safety. When that didn't lead to stricter national gun control laws, many wondered what it would take. 

Since the Connecticut shooting, security plans across the country have been implemented such as arming teachers with guns, adding security guards in schools and wearing bulletproof jackets.  Other teachers have taken self-defense classes in order to face “school shooters”. 

However, the two incidents this week clearly illustrate that such measures have not deterred gun-related incidents nor adequately addressed the problem of school violence which continues to be a rampant and rising problem across the United States. Moreover, the perpetrators are getting younger and younger as the latest string of murders indicates.

Only last week, a 16-year-old student in Austin, Texas killed himself in front of other students with a gun.  Moreover, in August, a student in North Carolina shot and wounded another student in the neck and in January two shootings took place – one in an Atlanta middle school and one in a California high school, CNN reported

A mother of one of the students killed in Connecticut said in a written statement that the latest shooting incident reinforced the need to find solutions to keep our students and teachers safe:

"The unthinkable has happened yet again, this time in Sparks, Nevada.  It's moments like this that demand that we unite as parents to find common sense solutions that keep our children -- all children -- safe, and prevent these tragedies from happening again and again,” she said.

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