I am beyond tired of mass shootings at schools. Not just because I have kids in school, not just because I spent 26+ years of my own life as a student, not just because I work at a school (which is a big part of what a university really is). Schools are where people come to learn, to build skills, to find out who they are or who they want to be.
Schools are supposed to be safe.
As I was driving home from my school, I was listening to experts being asked on the radio how a school shooting like the one today could happen. Obviously, the follow-up question would be something along the lines of how, knowing what causes it, could we prevent more shootings like this one?
And the experts, down the line, said that really, this is an extremely rare event. Mostly, this kind of thing doesn't happen.
Which is probably true, but that wasn't the question.
Rare or not, this kind of event is utterly devastating. Do you know what caused it, or what contributed to it? Or is it an event for which you have just as little knowledge about causes, and effective prevention, as the rest of us?
The experts were also asked how parents should discuss this news with their kids. Here too, down the line, they said that parents should reassure kids that schools are very safe places.
But here again, that's not really the question our kids are asking when we talk about people showing up at a school with guns and killing lots of people.
What they want to know is, "Can you keep me safe? Can you promise that no one will show up at my school and do something like this?"
As much as we want to tell them yes, I don't think we can, not without lying. If there's a way to keep this promise, I'm not sure we know enough to do it. And maybe, even if we knew all there was to know about the causes, we still couldn't keep these shootings from happening.
That's a bitter pill to swallow, but if that's how the landscape looks to the people who study mass shootings, I kind of wish they'd tell us that rather than repeating how safe schools are.