23 September 2007

If you can't pack the heat, get out of the classroom

The latest teaching debate going on in the US is whether teachers should be allowed to carry weapons to class. No, really (story here).

The idea is not about trying to enforce higher homework completion but, apparently, to try to prevent a repeat of the various campus-based mass murders that have taken place over the last 10 years. The theory is, because everyone at school is unarmed - and gun-wielding maniacs know they are unarmed - it makes them more vulnerable to any Tom, Dick or Seung-Hui Cho who fancies dealing with their personal issues through firearms.

At first glance, the figures appear alarming: According to the Journal of American Medical Association (December 2001), between 1994 and 1999, there were 220 "school associated violent events" resulting in 253 deaths - 74.5% of these involved firearms. That's about one death a week. Until you realise that, outside of school, 15 young people are murdered every day in the USA, 82% with guns. In fact, less than 1% of child murders happen in school.

Unless this is a clever piece of reverse psychology to get the guns off the streets. After all, what could possibly make a gun less cool than if your teacher had one too?

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