School Violence: A Firsthand Look at Its Scars

COMMENTARY | When Jared Cato planned on returning to school on the first day of school next week, it wasn’t as a student. As The Associated Press reported Wednesday, his plans allegedly included a bomb, targeting at school administrators and any students who got in the way. Cato’s Facebook page clearly stated his intentions: “lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten.”

It’s not the job of wicked people to teach anyone anything — and never at a school.

Speaking as someone who has seen the results of school violence herself, I know that school violence is one of the most profoundly ugly sins.

Violence Hits Home

It happened at the high school where I taught English. In the car next to mine, a teacher was murdered shortly after I got to work and entered the building. The murder-suicide happened within view of her students a stone’s throw from the school. Although he never left the parking lot, the killer very clearly meant to hurt more than one person.

My students, seniors at the time, were just beginning their final exams. When the medical examiner had a teacher come to my room to ask if I could move my car out of the crime scene area, it hit home.

You can’t be 100% safe, even at school.

The attack was a profoundly selfish, wicked thing to do. Our students soldiered on; the teachers grieved. School was a sacred, safe place, and he violated that sanctuary. It’s where kids should know they’re protected and outsiders with evil intentions won’t be packing heat and planning to hurt people.

A Plan Thwarted

The worst monsters know this — and incorporate it into their plans. This is precisely what Jared Cano allegedly did. He targeted administrators; any students who might have gotten in the way would simply have been collateral damage. But the real damage after school violence runs deeper.

In Tuesday’s arrest, police not only removed a damaged young person from society but prevented creating another whole set of nightmares for others to deal with.

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