In our ongoing mission to enhance the safety and security of schools across the nation, it’s crucial to understand the history and evolution of school shootings. Contrary to widespread belief, the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 was neither the first nor the deadliest school shooting in American history. However, its impact has shaped law enforcement responses and school safety policies for decades.

David Riedman, a respected researcher in the field, provides a comprehensive analysis on his website, shedding light on the complexities and nuances of school shootings. Through his work, we’re reminded that incidents involving students in trench coats firing guns inside classrooms date back as far as 1983, debunking the myth of Columbine as the origin of such tragedies.

Columbine’s notoriety, partly fueled by extensive media coverage, has become a blueprint for subsequent attacks. Often rife with inaccuracies and speculation, this coverage has significantly influenced public perception and policy. Dave Cullen, author of “Columbine” and “Parkland: Birth of a Movement,” critiques the media’s role in distorting the reality of the Columbine shooting, emphasizing the dangers of misinformation.

www.sitesafetynet.orgFurthermore, Riedman’s research highlights that school shootings have been a grim part of our history since at least 1966, with planned attacks occurring yearly. This includes a variety of incidents, from a shooting at Boylan Central Catholic High in 1983, where a student in a trench coat shot his teacher, to the tragedy in Stockton, CA, in 1989, where more than 20 students were shot.

The two years preceding the Columbine shooting saw several attackers wearing black trench coats during high-profile attacks, illustrating that the problem was not confined to a single incident or era. These historical precedents underscore the importance of understanding the full scope of school violence beyond the singular narrative of Columbine.

At SITE| SAFETYNET℠, improving school safety requires a multifaceted approach informed by accurate historical context and the latest research. We can better prepare for and prevent future incidents by acknowledging and learning from the past. David Riedman’s invaluable work reminds us of the complexities surrounding school shootings and the importance of basing our actions on facts and thorough analysis.

In our quest to protect students and ensure the safety of educational environments, let us remain committed to informed, data-driven strategies. Together, we can work towards a future where school shootings are a thing of the past.

For more detailed insights into the history and analysis of school shootings, we highly recommend visiting David Riedman’s website at His research offers a crucial perspective for anyone dedicated to making schools safer for everyone.

Protecting Our Students, Inc.

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