How muddying crime statistics unconsciously protects whiteness
There's something fishy in Denmark and it's not the river. Last week I went to write up an article to discuss the disparities in demographics of school shootings and was shocked. I don't say things just to say them, especially when I'm trying to prove a point. I like to be able to back up my claims with research data that has been peer reviewed or at the very least coming from a website government or otherwise tasked with keeping track of specific items of interest.
Imagine my surprise when I looked up school shooter statistics and was met with a wall of nothingness. As if there's not a mold for school shooters...and we all know the mold. I looked and looked, then changed my search criteria which landed me on the Everytown website that showed school shootings were more prevalent in minority communities. I. Was. Gobsmacked. So down the rabbit hole I went.
EveryTown was semi-transparent saying they counted every act of school violence with a firearm even if school was not in session, if it took place in the parking lot on the weekend or even on the sidewalk outside the school at night.
"Gunfire on school grounds occurs most often at schools with a high proportion of students of color—disproportionately affecting Black students," Everytown says. "Everytown tracks every time a firearm discharges a live round inside or into a school building or on or onto a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press."
When accounting for every time a firearm is discharged on campus, it gives the impression that schools in inner cities are more prone to gun violence. Though, these instances may not even be occurring during school hours, they're counted as a "school shooting." To take it a step further, Everytown gathers and cross references their data with the K-12 Shooting Database, which includes data from all school shootings.
It may sound like I'm splitting hairs because a school shooting is a school shooting, but is it? If a shooting occurs on the basketball court at 11 PM during an altercation between two players, how many people would consider that an actual school shooting?
"This information includes gang shootings, domestic violence, shootings at sports games and afterhours school events, suicides, fights that escalate into shootings, and accidents," K-12 Shooting Database explains.
Targeted shootings feel very different than mass shootings where there's no specific target and the goal is to terrorize and hurt as many people as possible. By including ALL of this additional data when keeping track of mass school shootings that tend to occur in predominantly white areas and schools, how can we get accurate data and target the problem?
Making mass school shootings an every demographic problem and including data that skews the numbers to look as if it's a predominantly Black problem isn't doing white families any favors. In fact, it continues to lull them into a false sense of security that there's nothing wrong with their kids' schools, when clearly there's a problem. Mass school shootings isn't a Black problem. It's very distinctly a white cisgendered male problem that continues to be ignored due to the implicit bias that gives white boys a humanity that other groups are not afforded.
With the exception of a handful of school shooters, the profile of a school shooter is clear but it seems researchers are bound and determined to protect whiteness at all costs. There's a problem within the white community outside of racism and it's about time other white people start calling it out. What is going on with white youth? Let's have that conversation.