Study: School shooting deaths down from past

Public perception in tragedy's wake says otherwise

POSTED: 6:27 PM PST December 15, 2012    UPDATED: 9:41 PM PST December 15, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

What is the world coming to?

That is a question many have asked themselves since Friday’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people -- of those, 20 were children.

"It's tragic, awful," one Bend resident said Saturday.

“I have two grown kids, but I can’t imagine, you know -- I just can’t imagine (losing them).  It would just be devastating.”

Many in our community believe school shootings are becoming more common, and the safety of our schools is declining.

“(School shootings are) more common, and I don’t know why -- it didn’t used to be like this," one man said. "Going and shooting little kindergarteners in school.  It’s bad.”

The most infamous school shootings in just over the past decade began with the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.

In 2005, nine people were killed at Red Lake Senior High in Minnesota.

An Amish school house at Lancaster, Pennsylvania was where five young girls lost their lives in 2006.

The deadliest school shooting in the U.S. happened in 2007, when 32 people died on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Much more recently, in Oakland Calif., seven people died at a Korean Christian college in April of this year.

But are school shootings really on the rise?

A study by the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that the number of homicides at middle and high schools has steadily declined between 1993 and 2010.

In the 1992-1993 school year, 42 students were killed on campus, compared to 17 homicides during the 2009-2010 school year.

A second study, by the University of Virginia, finds that shootings are so rare that the average school would have to wait 13,870 years before a campus homicide would occur.

These studies strongly suggest that schools are safer now than they were 20 years ago.  However, they still do not help with the understanding of why anyone would choose to take the innocent lives of children.