MEMO From Michael: Youth Violence and Bullying

Just last month in a weekly memo I asked if violence and mass killings had become our new reality. That was prompted by the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Since then, the headlines have continued to shock and sadden us with news of seemingly random acts of violence.

Some might ask: Since when has the news media not brought us stories of murder and mayhem? But when the reports are about troubled young people committing and being killed by acts of violence, they are especially heart-rending. Police say a 12-year-old boy fatally shot a teacher in Sparks, Nevada, on Monday before turning the gun on himself. Two days later, a 14-year-old boy was charged with murdering a high school teacher in Danvers, Massachusetts. (This chronology of school violence with fatalities goes back to 1927. It’s striking to see nothing at all between then and 1959.)

More often than not, it seems, bullying is a factor in cases of school violence. And that makes the deaths seem especially tragic — because there’s a good chance they could have been prevented.

At Josephson Institute, we are preparing a survey report on youth violence and bullying. It’s part of our biennial Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth. The report will highlight data from our nationwide survey of over 20,000 high school students, but it will also offer solutions. I’ll let you know when it is available.

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