msnbc.com
updated 10/3/2006 9:25:49 PM ET 2006-10-04T01:25:49

When we asked readers to share their fears and feelings about the recent spate of school shootings, more than a thousand parents, children, teachers and others responded.

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One girl still thinks school is the safest place she knows, while a 13-year-old boy is afraid someone will get killed at his school.

"I certainly don't feel safe at school. I'm a teacher, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to walk into the classroom and function in a normal manner," one teacher wrote.

Some parents have decided to homeschool in an effort to protect their child. "Besides bullies, drugs, sex offenders and just mean teachers or students, [school] is not a safe haven anymore for kids just being kids."

Others say they refuse to live in fear. "To crawl in a hole and break away from society can be ... damaging for everyone," wrote one reader.

Read on for more responses:

My name is Ben. I am 14 years old. I feel somewhat safe at school, even after these shootings. But one thing worries me. If one man can kill four people with no remorse, what's stopping other people from killing way more at another school? Nothing. People could plan a shooting at my high school and people would know, but no one would tell authorities or they'd be harmed. When my peers say, "I'd fight back if there was a shooting," I doubt they would. There's a huge difference between saying things and actually doing them. There needs to be changes in the school systems. Metal detectors would be too expensive and time-consuming. ... Nothing can really be put in schools to stop shootings, unfortunately. The best we probably can do is put in metal detectors AND have the students who know about things prior to them happening to speak up.
— Ben, Knoxville, Tenn.

In essence, we are reaping what we have sowed in this country. We have permitted our children to see violence in movies and on in television. Human dignity has been cheapened. We've let the children rule the parents, rather than teaching them to respect their elders. We've given in to their whims because that was easier than to expect respect and obedience. We have left God out of our and their lives. Respect your children, but demand respect in return and monitor what they see and what they do. Tell your children often that you love them. Spend quality time with them. It pays great dividends. Teach them by example. Don't tell me I just don't know what it's like to be a single mother. My children's father died, when they were in their teen years, and we worked through our grief together, picked up the pieces and marched onward. Again, death stalked our family and I lost a son and my son and daughter lost their younger brother. Again, we went through our grief together, again picked up our lives and continued on. Faith in God certainly makes tragedy much easier to bear.
— Jennie Vertrees, Princeton, Mo.

Once again, the issue of gun control comes into view. There is no will in this country to control guns. There is no reason for anyone to own a gun. The right to bear arms was originally intended for citizens to protect themselves from the British. Civilized people do not need to own guns. We could learn a lesson from the Amish and try to live more simply, without guns.
— Anonymous

I am a teacher and I can't say that I feel safe, but I don't feel unsafe either. It is always in the back of your mind that a former, or even a current, student could come to school with a gun and intent to harm you or other students. You can't let that rule you. The majority of students that I work with understand that violence gets you nowhere. We have really aware counselors, teachers and administrators. We also have a police officer on campus most of the time. There are certainly measures in place, but no measure is enough if a child is determined to do something harmful. The best thing we can do in schools is to teach kids to respect one another and to teach kids that bullying is unacceptable. The greatest difference we can make is not being reactive, but being proactive in the way that we treat others.
— Katie, Canton, Ga.

I feel safe sending my kids to their school and refuse to let fear keep them from a normal childhood (and be) locked up in the house.
— Lisa Bryan, Lima, Ohio

With all the security measures that have been put into place at my kids' school, I can still walk in the door anytime and so can anyone else. There needs to be a total lockdown with security at the door to let people in and out.
— Jill, Ithaca, Mich.

What scares me most is pretty evident, school violence is on the rise. Safety for our children no longer exist in our school system. My son was beaten by 15 transfer students last year the week of Thanksgiving. What did the school officials do ... nothing. What did they say they could do ... nothing. They couldn't even refer to their schools policy and procedures on safety, they can not secure or provide peace of mind in our schools. They have press conferences and false claims that school violence is down, but my son made it clear to all of them..."Sir, I'm sorry to tell you but I walk the hallways in my school not you and violence has risen in my school dramatically since my freshman year." When asked if he was scared to go to school and would he transfer out, he said, "This is my school, I live in this neighborhood, Why should I have to leave? I'm not scared and I'm going to finish school with the classmates I've gone to school with for more then just high school."
— Millie, Chicago, Ill.

I live about two hours away from Lancaster (Pa.) County where there was just a school shooting and my sister-in-law lives in Lancaster. We were on the phone all day today together watching and listening to news and what was going on. This is really sick and it has to be stopped. We as parents send our kids to school every day thinking they are going to be safe and that they are going to learn and instead they are being tortured and killed. This totally breaks my heart, I have two small children, and it scares me to death to put them on the bus in the mornings and send them off to school. I don't feel safe at all! These are our children, and something more needs to be done to protect them. I live in a small town, but so did the poor Amish of Lancaster County who didn't bother anyone. It is horrible and today it finally hit me, that if it happened there, it could happen here or anywhere! These kids are our future, we need stop all these horrible things that are happening. I really think someone needs to step back and not worry about who is going to win an election or who is going to out do another person, and worry about our kids and how we are going to save them! If they can make airports safer and what not, then they can make schools safer and do what needs to be done! If something is not done to make our schools safer, I will home school my children. They are my world!
Amy Kapcsos, Johnstown, Pa.

What scares me the most is that it wasn't students who did the shooting. It was some random guy who just walked in and destroyed these families worlds. Columbine had student shooters - we learned to stop bulling, get kids help when they're stressed or having problems, be more attentive parents. Now it's seemingly random adults; how do we tell who is going is going to be the one to take it out on our kids?
— Peregin, Denver, Colo.

It seems as if our nation is going through a whole mess of school shootings. I personally, as a student, went through the same scare about three weeks ago when our school was locked down because of an anonymous hotline call that said someone on campus had a weapon. These shootings are becoming almost ridiculous — three in a week? What's going on in the U.S. Dept. of Defense?
Jasper Lynn, Arcadia, Calif.

What worries me most is the sensationalism that is reflected in the news reports. Without question, this has a direct influence upon those individuals who observe this reporting & it aids them in justifying their actions to themselves because they know their actions will undoubtedly be displayed in from of all America & the world...whether right or wrong
— Jim Myhre, Fergus Falls, Minn.

I am very worried. I live in a small town and a lot of the kids here are very unhappy. Parents think a quick fix is to keep your child in church activities. In the town I live in there is nothing for these kids to do but drink, do drugs, and torment others. I listen to my daughter when she talks about the school problems. Our mid-high (9-10 grade) is so overwhelmed with drug use that even the faculty doesn't know about. There has been threats of violence many times. I moved from California to this small town to take my kids away from school violence and peer pressure. What a joke. My daughter overdosed last February because she couldn't take the pressures from the violence and the threats. She survived, but will the next kid?
Lisa, Bartlesville, Okla.

As a teacher in a large, urban elementary school, my fears for the safety of my students grow daily. I often tell myself, "This would never happen here." Then I just look at the headlines across the nation and I know that I must be prepared to lay my life on the line for my students. I would do this in a heartbeat. Teachers have become soldiers in our violent nation (without the benefit of combat pay). Children have become targets (without the benefit of self-defense). What is happening to us?
— Mary Gallagher, Omaha, Neb.

With all the school violence taking place these days I am seriously thinking of homeschooling my youngest child. He won't be school age for another three years but who knows how bad it will be by then. After spending 10 years working in the security field I went to work at a local school. Their "security" was sadly lacking, it consisted of a few janitors with radios. Everyday that I worked there I was fearful (and watchful) for the students.
Patricia, Ariz.

I'm 13 years old and in junior high school. I know how difficult it is to fit in. I just am worried that someday, someone's words, or even just resentfulness to others, may push someone over the edge. I've seen firsthand what terrible things some kids can do out of hate, fear, and just not being accepted. It's scary sometimes, but you have to live on even after these events. You also can't just suspect that one group of people is capable of doing this. Anyone can honestly be a hazard to anyone else.
— Tucker

My children have graduated but my daughter is a teacher. I feel that is time for the news media to stop making these criminals that kill school children or teachers into folk heroes with their 15 minutes of fame ... ignore them, publish their names only — we don't care anymore why they did it! It is never their fault but was their families fault, they were unloved, they are druggies, their dog hated them, whatever. Instead focus on the victims and their families, honoring their lives! If these jerks who are considering these dastardly deeds see they will not get the publicity they seek, maybe they will just shoot themselves instead of taking innocent lives!
— Shirley Mondeaux, Holland, Pa.

We are ready to move back to Europe! After living in Germany for four years, my kids were terrified to return to school in the states because of all the school shootings and sniper rampages we read about in the international news. Yes, there are nuts in every country, but most of them don't have unlimited access to firearms. It makes a difference in the amount of damage they can inflict. Perhaps it is time to join the civilized world and start valuing life over the "right" to bear arms. Our family won't feel safe until our states reform their ridiculously loose gun laws. I'm tired of being held hostage by the NRA.
— Anonymous, Ellicott City, Md.

I have only been out of school for 10 years and am dumbfounded by our kids today. What kind of a world do we live in when a 15 year old shoots the principle for punishing him? We as parents should be just as ashamed as anyone else! We are the ones that teach our kids right from wrong and that there are consequences to our actions. If nobody teaches these kids about consequences who will and will it be too late. Today kids have a total lack of respect for any authority figures and a sense of entitlement to Lord knows what. I was taught that you get what you give. You don't deserve something because you breathed for the day. We as a society need to get back to the core family values! Spend time with our kids, talk about their day the good and the bad. We can't use the "I am just too busy" excuse. I work 40+ hours a week and still find time to talk to my children every day and spend quality time with them. I make time. Even if it means getting an hour less sleep our leaving the laundry for the next day. America - turn off your TV and sit down with your kids.
— Shannon Apel, Borwnsdale, Minn.

The thing that worries me the most is that no matter how much security or how little security there is at a school it still can happen anywhere. If someone is willing to try it no one will probably be able to stop them. The scariest part is no one knows who is actually capable of doing these acts. The person could be the kindest, sweetest person or the most secluded or withdrawn. With the recent school shootings I don’t think I can feel safe. I am a college student attending a university and I think if it can happen in an elementary, middle or high school then it can happen at a community college or university.
— Amanda Willingham, Yspilanit, Mich.

Protection of students at schools is yet another aspect at which America as a whole is failing. Quality healthcare, assistance for the disadvantaged, the elimination of homelessness, healthcare for the poor — and now, school safety. The prevention of the loss of innocent lives in the most innocent of settings. ... We concentrate on nothing other than our constant battles in a losing war on drugs and a losing war on terrorism. Let these recent killings, as well as the other recent school killings, be a reminder of who the real terrorists are and where they're coming from. Recognize that indeed, these are official acts of terrorism, and obviously, "HopelessLand Security" is obviously is not working to effect any security on the home front.
— Alonzo Jackson Howard, Houston

I am acutely aware that this sort of violence can happen anywhere. Though we live in a "safe" community, the attacks we have seen in schools since Columbine have been in "safe," less urban communities. My 15-year-old has had a cell phone for 3 1/2 years. Though his school policy is that phones are to be in lockers, I instruct him to keep the ringer off and the phone in his pocket. I do not apologize for betraying this rule. I know without a doubt that the school cannot guarantee the safety of my children. They can take many precautions, but there are no more guarantees that our school won't have a problem any more that I am guaranteed not to be hit by a bus. It saddens me greatly that our world has become such a violent one. I am very seriously considering outfitting my 7 and 8 year olds with a phone as well. I realize that a cell phone does not make my children safe. I do at least feel more connected, and somewhat (maybe foolishly) empowered to do my part if anything were to happen.
— Heav, Bettendorf, Iowa

What worries me the most is that absolutely nothing can be done to stop this sort of event. If there had been a guard at the school he/she would have been shot first. If there were a gate it would have been broken down. If the door had been locked, well, I think it is clear. Here is the issue, as I see it: Despite what is shown on television dramas, law enforcement is not very skilled at dealing with these situations when they do occur. What must be realized is that while every precaution should be taken to prevent such a thing from happening, it is even more important to provide law enforcement with the training and resources to effectively deal with it when it does occur. I don't have the answers as to what the response should be, but I fervently hope that there are those who do and that they are able to share that knowledge with the greatest number of those in the "first responder" community.
— Rick, Phoenix, Ariz.

I feel safe at my school, it seems to be the safest place around here. We have a cop, and there are teachers everywhere. Plus, most kids at [my school] gossip enough that word gets around about a fight before it happens. Therefore I believe that someone would overhear of plans to shoot people at this school. Students seem safe, but anyone can walk into a school.
— K.A., Des Moines, Iowa

Our children are homeschooled, and the past week has made me very relieved that is so. What has happened to American society? I was in school from '65 until '78, and it never crossed my mind that one day a maniac would enter our building and start shooting. It makes the air-raid drills which we did in grade school seem like a picnic. I believe we have lost our moral moorings to the entertainment world of video, TV and movie violence. It almost makes one wonder if we are going to soon need marshals posted at the door of each school.
— Marcia, Lynden, Ontario, Canada

No, I certainly don't feel safe at school. I'm a teacher, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to walk into the classroom and function in a normal manner. Teachers fear reprimanding their students — wondering if this one might come back with a gun because we told him to sit down and be quiet, or to stop yelling in the halls! As a result, the classroom environment is more chaotic, the kids are virtually in control, and school is simply an unpleasant place to be for both teachers and students. I love my job. I love the kids I teach. But daily I ask myself if the $980 I get every two weeks (after five years of teaching and 15 credits towards a master's degree) is worth it. Folks wonder why the school system seems to be going in the toilet. They should instead ask themselves why, given the level of danger, the lack of appreciation and respect, not to mention the paltry income, any intelligent person would, in today's world, chose to teach?
— Rebecca Hanson, Milwaukee, Wis.

As a freshman at a suburban Milwaukee school, I always felt extremely safe at school. We do not have metal detectors or other extreme means of security, but there are cameras that monitor the majority of the school. When we heard about the shooting of the principal in our state I think it brought it home for us. We had talks about what to do if something of that sort happened at our school, but most of us laughed it off or wondered why in the world anyone would want to do that sort of thing at our school. It scares me to think that it could happen to us.
— Emily, Delafield, Wis.

I am a student and I personally do not feel safe in school. I think the shooting in Bailey, Colo. inspired serial killers all over the U.S., and that triggered gunmen to take hostages in the school nearest them. Who knows, maybe my area could be the next target. Maybe police should tighten security in schools. Amish, urban, rural or suburban, I don't think it matters to gunmen.
— Anonymous

I am a parent of three children and it scares me to death! I drop them off everyday like normal, just as the parents of the children that are now dead or injured did. None of us are immune to these types of tragedies, it can happen at a restaurant, a ball game, anywhere. I don't think the media hype helps anything either. It gives the next sicko ideas of how they can copycat or outdo a horrific crime. It angers me that anyone, especially someone who has children of their own, could carry out such a heinous crime against innocent children. Is it possible to feel SAFE in America anymore?
— Melisa, Calif.

I'm really scared to go to school now. I feel like any minute I'm going to be shot. I'm a girl so I feel that if I do experience a school shooting I will be one of the top victims. I have trouble sleeping sometimes and get all cold and shaky inside. I told someone but they just said that nothing like that will ever happen in my school. Should I believe them? I'm so scared!
— Esther

As much as we would like to prevent these hideous crimes, there is really no way to control enraged, and deranged individuals who do not have respect for themselves, life or others. In a rural town such as Lancaster County, there is no logical reason for metal detectors, security personnel, etc., for a one-room school house. Society needs to reach these type of people at younger ages when such grievous offenses have permanently hurt them ... in order to not have them lash out years later for unresolved offenses that build up in a person like a time bomb. It is the same mind set as terrorists. Revenge! For what? God only knows! That's why we keep fighting to stop it.
— Joseph Serao, Manalapan, N.J.

Listening to the events in the U.S.A., I do not feel safe sending kids to school anymore. Besides bullies, drugs, sex offenders and just mean teachers or students, (school) is not a safe haven anymore for kids just being kids.
— Silvia Taft, Barstow, Calif.

Unfortunately this is no different than the terrorists who made their way into the United States. [We need] true convictions that it takes both school officials and parents to monitor [children] daily and to get away from the belief it is someone else's problem to solve. I have a 13-year-old daughter and it sickens me to think of the mentally deranged individuals in this "land of the free." But, to crawl in a hole and break away from society can be much more damaging for everyone. Prayer is the ultimate answer to all. God be with the families.
— L. Hopkins, Wentzville, Mont.

Actually, I have a suggestion. We take great pains to guard our banks, even providing a "panic button" in the event of a hold-up. I question why we do not afford similar protection to our children. I suggest a similar "panic button" be established in schools which would alert police to such an incident. Such would shorten response time and would have the potential of lessening the loss of life.
— Pat, Reading, Pa.

I am a teacher and just e-mailed my superintendent last night about the lack of security in our school. Even though no doors are locked during the day and anyone can enter, he responded by telling me that he felt we were "one of the safest schools". After 2 e-mails to him letting him know that my own family members have entered the building on numerous occasions and came to my classroom "unnoticed", he agreed to lock some of the doors. It is incredible to be that our "school leaders" still have the mentality that "it cannot happen here."
— Anonymous

I think they are all copycat crimes. I was 13 when Columbine happened and that scared me to death. For weeks and days after my suburban school clamped down on everything. Over the years the fear subsided. I am now a senior in college and reading this story makes me sick. How can anyone do this to innocent people and take their lives? If I was a mother I would have no qualms about sending my children to school, your risks go up every day when you leave the house and that includes going to school. I am saddened by this recent shooting spree on schools, but what can one do?
— Katie, Purchase, N.Y.

In 1974 the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was removed from school walls all over the country. The Bible teaches "be angry and sin not." This angry man needed God's teachings as we all do to guide us through life outside the garden of Eden. Only in submitting to higher teachings and ideals that protect good can such terrible tragedies be avoided. The last 30-plus years testify to the demise we all too often see around us. Without acknowledging and seeking to uphold God's law, such horrendous acts and worse will continue to increase.
— Amy Jensen, Auburn, Ala.

The press worries me! The report says that it was a copycat crime. If you all, meaning the press, would stop reporting the crime, then maybe other similar crimes would not be committed. People who kill others at random are generally looking for fame and acknowledgement from the public in any way they can get it. Stop reporting in such graphic detail and fewer children and people will be murdered. Do I feel safe, not now that you all have given the murderer so much attention. Back off. This same thing happened right after Columbine. They, referring to the criminals, had their fame and recognition, thanks to you. Focus more if you must on the lives they destroyed. Do their memories honor rather than the assailant.
— E. Dow, Yarmouth, Maine

I am terribly worried about sending my little girl, who is 12, to school. If she didn't enjoy it so much this year in particular, I'd pull her right out and homeschool her, which I have done 2.5 of her school years so far, though not consecutively. If it happens again she's out, and I may even do that anyway. If you think about it, these are large areas of pretty defenseless kids, and if you're a sicko, determined to assault children, sexually or not, all you need to do is go on a suicide mission and do what you're going to do and you're guaranteed to get what you're after — high-level security or not. Even more than that, children are where it gets us most as a society, and if someone is after revenge, or a serious stab to the heart of the majority of the people of a country, then they just may go after schools for that effect. Obviously there is a fundamental problem with the moral and ethical standards of our society right now, and I'm not talking about believing in god or anything of that nature at all. I mean a social, ethical and moral standard, and people just aren't getting this. Everyone is so disconnected from each other and everything around themselves and their communities, and dealing with things in a constructive manner is not exactly how our country as a whole deals with things apparently these days. How often does this happen elsewhere? By their own people, for these kinds of reasons? We live in a supposed civilized and free society, so why so many crazy rampage killings of this nature?
— Crystal, Austin

I have two kids in school, one in middle and one in grade school. My 9-year-old has been hearing of all these school shootings and told me Sunday that she wants to go to a private school because "it is too easy for bad people with guns to come hurt and kill kids who didn't do anything." And she has every right to be scared, what are children supposed to do if their school is attacked? They, as well as the school staff, are totally at the mercy of the killers and they did nothing to deserve it. It is not at all right. I think all schools need to re-evaluate their security systems. Maybe have the maintenance workers who are there all the time be trained and licensed to carry a gun for the defense of the schools who are so vulnerable. A child should be safe in their school.
— Donna, Iowa

The media makes to much ado over these shooting. These people get their name and causes blasted all over the news for days or weeks. People who have causes or inferior feelings about themselves use the schools as a venue for addressing these issues. It's the same as terrorists use to express political views. Downplay the perpetrators and keeping it as local as possible might help.
—Sam Campbell, Ind.

I am a teacher and I feel that schools have become safer since 9/11 and because of Columbine and related incidents. Schools are not ever going to be fool-proof. We cannot lock the doors from the inside and we cannot control every situation but our county has implemented stringent guidelines for these types of situations. All schools are equipped with a ringing intercom and door system which does provide protection from the crazies of this world. The office has visual access of the front door and all other access is locked at all times. We hope and pray that this insanity stops but until we implement more security and begin to look at the issues that drive these attacks then no one is really safe.
— Dawn, Columbus, Ga.

My biggest fear is that instead of dealing with the real problem, government will predictably focus on inanimate objects, the firearms used. The real problem is school security and social alienation, including that caused by bullying which can leave lifelong scars and cause rage decades later. But these are harder to deal with than simply blaming an inanimate object.
Nadja Adolf, Calif.

I'm glad that my kids are done with traditional schooling. They're now in a local college that has a very good security system. I know many parents are considering homeschooling which I fear limits socialization in youngsters. Homeschooling does keep them away from uncontrolled situations like these horrendous shootings but can hamper their development and limit the family's income. Children used to be off-limits. It's not the video games, movies or desensitizing of our youth that is to blame. It's the lack of enforcement of common courtesies, rules and the ability to follow through with discipline. Parents have lost their ability to effectively parent. I don't have the answers but I do see many causes that resort in constant fear and heartache in the population.
— D. Saville, Muskegon, Mich.

I don't feel safe at school anymore. As a student of Colorado schools, I am very worried. Our school isn't big on stopping people in the halls, they think that if the person looks like a parent, then they should be here. Every day I go to school wondering if I could get shot. After the close shootings at Columbine and most recently, Bailey, I think everyone should be more on their toes.
— Ashley, Pagosa Springs, Colo.

It is most frightening to me that there don't seem to be any clear warning signs indicating a person's state of mind or intentions. More frequently than I am comfortable with, members of our society are falling prey to individual(s) who have mastered the appearance of being normal, healthy, stable ... and the predator's family and friends are just as bewildered.
— Neptune, Asbury Park, N.J.

It is not a good day to be a small child in America. We live in a violent culture. Billions of dollars are spent on defending our country against terrorists from abroad, but where is the protection for our schoolchildren? This was a neighbor who bought a gun and walked into the school. How do we answer our children when they ask us if they are safe? When do we put down our weapons, meant for killing, and give up our precious rights so we can hold our children?
— Beth Bennett, Walnutport, Pa.

What worries me the most about the recent spate of school shootings is how resigned I am to the fact that they have happened. It makes me sick to think that because it is happening so much that something of this horrific magnitude no longer seems completely foreign. When in the world did I become so accustomed to children being killed in schools? It's absolutely terrifying to think that one day this may be something that appears regularly on our news reports, like the carjackings that at one time seemed so unbelievable and now are a part of everyday life. I am a newlywed with plans to start a family in the next couple of years and I am beginning to think that depending on how things progress in our nation, eventually homeschooling might be the only safe option. How very sad.
— T.S., Ithaca, N.Y.

What worries me the most about this latest rash of school shootings is that the liberal gun control advocates will use it as an excuse to further their cause of attempting to abolish our constitutional right to bear arms. Just as it was mentioned in the article I read, only 12 to 20 homicides occur in 100,000 schools nationwide but, the gun control soccer moms that have the fantasy that the nation will be a safer place by banning guns only pay attention to the media frenzy that these school shooting attract. When was the last time you saw a story about a crime that was diverted because of a gun? It's been awhile for me, and even if you do find such a story it will typically be nowhere near front page material.
— Matthew Wagner

As a second grade teacher, these stories hit close to home. The district in which I teach does have an emergency plan in the event of a tragedy such as this one taking place. The problem is that it is hardly ever practiced. Unfortunately, the main concern of our administrators seems to be state test scores, rather than extra safety measures. There are safety precautions that are in place such as the doors at our school may only be opened by ringing a buzzer which shows the caller's picture on a video screen. Visitors are not permitted inside the building without first signing in at the main office. Even though these are all extra steps towards safety, nothing is a guarantee. Many times people are let into the building simply by someone who is holding the door open for them. Parents roam the halls as if they own the place and don't understand why they are required to sign in at the office (yet, they would be the first ones to complain about the lack of security!). I simply could not believe that there had been another shooting in the course of a week. It is unfathomable to me that this is the sick society in which we live today. I cannot even comprehend the loss that these parents are experiencing. It seems as though the safest environments that we can give our children (home, school, etc.) are becoming the most dangerous of all. My prayers go out to all of the families in Pennsylvania and to all of those who have lost a child to senseless school violence.
— Anonymous

What worries me the most about this recent trend of school shootings is hard to put into words. Are our children safe anywhere? But to kill these innocents who do harm to no one is beyond the pale. My heart goes out to the victim's families and friends and the whole community. It tears me up and I know none of them, but my grief is real because I know that we are all connected and so my heart breaks for their pain and terror. At first I thought that this murder was a sign that we can no longer separate ourselves from each other, but I realize that we aren't separate no matter what life we choose to live. This community is reaching out to the rest of us to help us to remember this, to remember about forgiveness and the power choosing to forgive. Retaliation of any kind only brings more pain and there is always collateral damage. Now this killer's children have no father and the victim's families hearts are broken. I am so touched by the outpouring of love the Amish have for the killer's family. Perhaps these little girls lives were not lost in vain, if we too choose to forgive.
— Teresa, Albuquerque, N.M.

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