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Shootings in American schools

Reducing the level of violence,
bullying, teasing, & rejection in schools

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  • Mahatma Gandhi: "If we want to have peace in the world we have to start with the children."


Some instances of school shootings are triggered by a student's mental illness. Others are triggered by some prior action by school officials -- typically corporal punishment or suspension. But one positive result of the Columbine tragedy in Littleton CO was an increasing appreciation of the role of bullying on school violence. Many offenders have been bullied, rejected, denigrated by fellow students for many years until the student snaps, and commits a violent act in retaliation. As one public school student in New York City said: "If you're bullied so much, one of those days you'll just pop."

About bullying:

According to a 1999 article by CNN, most of the school shootings in the U.S. over the previous three years were by boys who said that they had been teased or rejected by others.

  • Merle Froschl, co-founder of Educational Equity Concepts, which developed the "Quit It" curriculum, said: "We feel it's just as important for children to learn how to respect each other as it is for them to read and write." 2

  • Marla Brassard, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University said: "It's more hurtful than being hit or pushed. Those wounds heal. But really mean things that people say to you stay with you."

  • Bob O'Brien, principal at New York City's P.S. 75, said: "We know these students have felt excluded. And if we know those things can happen and we know they're avoidable, why would we not do everything we can to prevent other kids from having that experience?"

  • Kathy Noll works with a number of TV programs who are preparing episodes that deal with bullying. She said: "In a recent study, 77% of the students said they were bullied. 14% of those said they experienced severe (bad) reactions to the abuse." She also notes that:

    • 46% of American schools do not take steps to prevent bullying.

    • The U.S. Justice Department says that 80% of all students have been the victims of some form of bullying. 3

Followup almost 11 years later, in 2010:

Many schools in the U.S. were galvanized into action after the Columbine shooting. Anti-bullying regulations were put in place across the U.S.

One of the main victims of bullying have traditionally been students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or transsexual (LGBT) or are perceived to be LGBT. Ironically, the number of heterosexual students who are bullied because they are perceived to be LGBT exceeds the number of lesbian and gay students who are bullied because they actually are lesbian or gay. So the main benefits to anti-bullying laws and regulations will be felt by heterosexual students.

Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) have been orgainized in thousands of high schools, in part to reduce bullying.

Cyberbullying -- typically students posting derogatory messages about other students on the Internet, is a growing problem nationally. In rare cases, it has triggered a suicide by the victim. 4

H.R. 4530, the "Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010" has been introduced into the House to help combat discrimination against students in the public schools on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill specifically protects students of all sexual orientations and all gender identities. Reports in the media and over the Internet are treating the bill as pro-gay and pro-transgender legislation, and ignoring any benefits that heterosexual and cisgendered students would derive from the bill.

A survey published in early 2010 shows that the percentage of American students being bullied or beaten up by their peers had declined from nearly 22% in 2003 to less than 15% in 2008. It was published by the Univerity of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center. 5,6


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Anti-bullying resources:

  • "Where you are NOT alone!" is a web site to which students can contribute their own "...stories, poems, drawings, music and videos with others from around the world." See:

  • Bill Belsey has a web site devoted to cyberbullying: -- "the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others." See:

  • Champions Against Bullying works "... with individuals, schools and communities where every child can live, work, learn and thrive in an environment without fear, without violence and without limitation." See:

  • The home page of the University of New Hampshire's "Crimes Against Children Research Center" is at:

  • Don't Feed the Bully promotes their book by the same name. You can order a copy from their website and have a free book donated to your favorite library. Their site also has suggestions for dealing with bullies. See:

  • Empowered Student Partnerships (ESP) is a Toronto ON based, student-led program that empowers youth to identify safety concerns in their schools and communities and challenges them to create a year-long campaign to address these concerns. See:

  • sells a magnetic memo board in quantities of 500 up containing "The Pledge " -- "an empowering statement that contains phrases like 'I know sticking up for someone is the right thing to do' and 'I won't stand by; I will stand up'." See:

  • Lynne Namka, "Why Did Johnny Kill? School Violence Explained. The Dynamics of Rejection, Isolation, Bullying, Shame, Anger and Acting Out in Rage in Children," at:

  • Kathy Noll is the author of: "Taking the Bully by the Horns," Her website discusses "books & workshops on bullying, school violence & self-esteem issues." See:

  • The Safe Child Home Page promotes two books by Sherryll Kraizer: They also provide teacher training, parent education and community awareness, etc. See: The Safe Child Home Page.

  • Stage Kids - The Edu-tainment Company provide scripts on bullying and harassment that can be performed by schools and other groups. They provide: "An original script with directorial and staging notes; a CD with instrumental and vocal tracks for rehearsal and performances; and a study guide for use as resource material to initiate discussions. They can provide lead sheets and directorial videos at an additional cost. See:

  • Workplace Bullying equips employees with fun tools to fight back against workplace bullies. See: Bully Busters sells the following books on bullying in schools

If you see a generic ad below, please click on your browser's refresh icon.

References used:

  1. "School lesson: Deflect bullies, prevent violence,", 1999-MAY-28, at:

  2. As part of their Quit It! program, the Education Equity Center sells a teachers guide, and companion CD's dealing with teasing and bullying for use in grades K-3. See:

  3. Kathy Noll, "Taking the Bully by the Horns," at: She has co-authored a book "Taking the Bully by the Horns: Children's Version of the Best Selling Book, 'Nasty People'." Unicorn Press, (1998). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store The book is suitable for children ages 9 to 12.

  4. Janet Kornblum, "Cyberbullying grows bigger and meaner with photos, video," USA Today, 2008-JUL-14, at:

  5. "Bullying among children drops to 15%, study says," Toronto Star, 2010-MAR-05, Page A15.
  6. Home page of the Crimes Against Children Research Center is at:

Copyright 2005 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-NOV-25
Latest update: 2010-MAR-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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