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    No decrease in school shootings after Newtown

    WASHINGTON — There has been no reduction in the number of US school shootings despite increased security put in place after the rampage at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

    In Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Colorado, and Tennessee, and elsewhere, gunfire has echoed through school hallways, killing students or teachers in some cases. ‘‘Lockdown’’ is now part of the school vocabulary.

    An Associated Press analysis finds that there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, in addition to other cases of gun violence, in school parking lots and elsewhere on campus, when classes were not in session.


    Last August, for example, a gun discharged in a 5-year-old’s backpack while students were waiting for the opening bell in the cafeteria at Westside Elementary School in Memphis. No one was hurt.

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    Analysts say the rate of school shootings is statistically unchanged since the mid- to late-1990s, yet still remains troubling.

    Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, said there have been about 500 school-associated violent deaths in the past 20 years.

    The numbers don’t include a string of recent shootings at colleges and universities. Just last week, a man was shot and critically wounded at the Palm Bay Campus of Eastern Florida State College, police said.

    Finding factors to blame, rightfully or not, is almost the easy part: lack of parenting, easy access to guns, less value for the sanctity of life, violent video games.


    Stopping the violence isn’t.

    ‘‘I think that’s one of the major problems. There are not easy answers,’’ Stephens said. ‘‘A line I often use is do everything you can, knowing you can’t do everything.’’

    Bill Bond, who was principal at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., in 1997 when a 14-year-old freshman fired on a prayer group, killing three students and wounding five, sees few differences in how shootings are carried out today.

    The one consistency, he said, is that the shooters are males confronting hopelessness.

    ‘‘You see troubled young men who are desperate and they strike out and they don’t see that they have any hope,’’ Bond said.


    The recent budget deal in Congress provides $140 million to support safe school environments, and is a $29 million increase, according to the office of Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, a Democrat who leads the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

    About 90 percent of districts have tightened security since the Newtown shootings, estimates Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.