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In the first 11 weeks of 2018, there have been 12 school shootings. Although shootings on school campuses only make up a tiny fraction of gun injuries and deaths annually, a March report from the Giffords Law Center focuses on the deep impact of gun violence on children in the USA, elaborating on how it extends far beyond the classroom.

Named in homage to the student survivors of the horrific Feb 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Protecting the Parkland Generation highlights the breadth and depth of the problem and proposes concrete solutions to lessen the impact of gun violence on children. Since 1999, more than 38 000 children have been killed and 166 000 injured by gun violence in the USA, comprising 91% of all children killed by firearms in high-income countries—the third leading cause of death in all Americans younger than 18 years.

School shootings make headlines, but the majority of this violence is more quotidian: suicide, domestic violence, crime, and simple accidents. Beyond the physical toll of violence, children who witness it are left with trauma that is often not adequately addressed. Some children exposed to shooting will develop PTSD, but there are also broader mental health consequences to consider. Schools regularly lead even the youngest children through “active shooter” drills, designed to help them survive a mass shooting but also leaving children feeling less safe.

The report offers so-called proven solutions to gun violence, from preventing children’s access to guns—mandating safe storage, holding gun owners liable, and allowing doctors to discuss guns and gun safety with children and parents—to disarming people with histories of domestic violence, and supporting anti-gun violence programes in urban areas, where gun violence is felt most intently. One of their recommendations, raising the legal age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 years, has already become law in Florida. Parents, teachers, and policy makers need to embrace the energy and moral clarity of Parkland students’ demand for change. The report’s recommendations offer a long overdue start.

But none of the above will amount to a hill of beans without our gleaning the meaning of U.S. abominations overseas. Respecting “sales” abroad and sordid violations of international law.

Will someone in at least one school nationwide request that that point be discussed as part of every exchange concerning violence?

Rachel Oxman can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com. She wants to underscore that the media outlet first cited above and its “first cousins” on the national communications scene will not do what she is asking someone at schools to do. The reasons behind that, she believes, should also be discussed on campuses. And acted on.

 

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