Chardon and Columbine: Suburbs, Small Towns and School Shootings

March 1, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Chardon High School has at least a couple key things in common with Columbine that might help explain Monday’s shooting.

Three students from Chardon, in northeastern Ohio, are dead and two are injured. The suspected shooter has been identified as T.J. Lane. 

The first similarity that came to mind is that Columbine and Chardon may both be classified as suburbs and small towns, where many school shootings have occurred.

According to the U.S. Census, Chardon’s 2010 population was only 5,148, and overwhelmingly white — 96.9 percent. As I point out in my book, Columbine: A True Crime Story, Columbine does not even exist. It is not an official city, but a “Census designated place” with a population of about 24,000 that is 92.5% white.

School shootings tend to occur in these places because they are so homogeneous that youths who are different from others feel like complete outcasts who have no place else to turn. Social services in such small areas may also be limited.

While shootings have traditionally occurred in suburbs and small towns, they are still seen as everyday Americana — a point the Chardon schools superintendent drove home: “We’re not just any old place, Chardon,” he said, according to the New York Times. “This is every place. As you’ve seen in the past, this can happen anywhere.”


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