Dead Kids Don’t Count

Carol Marin in the Sun-Times:

How many of his students were getting shot, he wanted to know?

“I could tell you exactly how many schools we closed, how many
children had the H1N1 virus,” he said Tuesday from his office in

But not how many Chicago kids getting shot. Or data to compare Chicago with other cities.

“No one, literally, could tell me anything,” Duncan said.

And so he began collecting his own statistics on how many CPS students found themselves at the wrong end of a gun.

It’s a horrifying number, now estimated at 500 a year.

“Estimated” is the key word here.

We have lousy numbers on gun violence.

Marin’s column is about, primarily, the way the NRA prevents the accurate and useful collection of data on gun deaths of children, but there’s something else at work here, too, and that’s the media argument, which involves class and race as always. Gun violence has killed far more children than swine flu ever will, but which one has parents in a total nervous tizzy on Action News 3000?

Get enough talking heads yammering all day about this on TV as the Sudden Top Priority and the NRA will all of a sudden stop getting their phone calls returned. Real change will require our national AND local media to begin treating this like it’s as big a deal as swine flu, no matter what color the victims are, or how willing their parents are to be quoted.



7 thoughts on “Dead Kids Don’t Count

  1. Oh, sweet! We got a race troll yesterday, and now we’re gonna have a “wow, perhaps we should shift priorities in what we think of as an important hazard” vs. “any talk about or restrictions on any weapon ever, anywhere, including nuclear bazooka flamethrowers* is tantamount to the invalidation of the 2nd Amendment and ade facto destruction of America” argument today! Wheeeee!
    *I am aware that such a weapon does not, in fact, exist. Except in Bill Kristol’s wet dreams*.
    *Yes, I mentioned Bill Kristol’s nocturnal emissions before 7:30. I am a bad man.

  2. Obviously a huge deficit of NCLB / neocon education reform is that they totally disregard any influence of the environment on education.

  3. Eh, Maple, the usual answer for school violence is to lock schools down like they’re demilitarised zones, with metal detectors at the doors, random stop-and-frisks, classroom lockdowns so that they can do locker drug checks, random student cup-pissing, judgement- and context-free zero-tolerance policies, and cops on site.
    Nobody ever asks the students how they feel about going to school in a war zone in a totalitarian state, and nobody keeps statistics on howthat affects their educations, either.
    I’m glad I finished high school before Columbine and the Alberta shootings happened. I think I would have died of the stress of having to go to school in the “new, safer” schools operated under the post-Columbine lockdown policies.
    Seems to me like the best way to avoid having guns in school is to make it harder for people in and around the schools to get guns in the first place. But that’d be treating the root cause, and people seem not to be very good at that kind of thing.

  4. Hi Interrobang,
    I was thinking of the total environment the child lives in.
    But I totally agree with you that turning schools into prisons seems to be totally counterproductive.

  5. Schools as prisons and kids as inmates isn’t new.
    Administrators regarded the students as a necessary evil in the schools I attended in the 1960s in Missouri and the 1970s in Texas.
    Columbine just gave the authoritarians an excuse to make life even more miserable for the kids.

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