Blood shed on school grounds
According to a search of our newspaper archives, the last time a student was killed on Baltimore school grounds during the school day was January
1986 2001, when a boy was shot in the hall at outside of Lake Clifton High. As a society, we are mortified when we hear a child was killed at school, which is what happened yesterday when a 15-year-old was fatally stabbed outside Lemmel Middle. In the media, we give the incident big play.
But look at the quote in our story today from Lauren Brunson, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Lemmel. "I don't feel unsafe, because it happens all the time," she told my colleague Justin Fenton. "There's not much you can do except watch your back."
The boy killed outside Lemmel yesterday had a long juvenile record and was well-known to police. Had his murder occurred across the street, we would not give it nearly the same kind of attention as we are. Yet to Lauren and her classmates, there is no distinction between a murder at school and the murders that happen all the time in their neighborhoods. Just this week, another Baltimore school -- Masonville Cove Community Academy (formerly Ben Franklin) -- lost a 14-year-old student to violence, but he was killed in the streets.
So what is the difference? Why is a murder in the streets of a tough Baltimore neighborhood different than one in Howard County, or even Patterson Park? And why is a murder in the streets different than one outside (or inside) a school?
On one hand, it makes me sad that we're so desensitized to certain killings. On the other, we make a big deal when killings happen in places that are supposed to be safe. And it's a good thing that schools, no matter where they're located, are still supposed to be safe places. City kids will tell you they're far more afraid going to and from school than they are when they're inside. Which makes yesterday's stabbing all the more upsetting. But when a troubled kid dashes outside and ends up losing his life, what's a school to do?