One year after the April 20th school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, in which two students attacked and killed fellow students and a teacher using guns, pipe bombs and other explosives, 72% of Americans believe that such a violent outburst could happen again, according to a CBS News Poll.
That figure is nearly as high as it was immediately after the event. 22% now think that this event was a random act that is not likely to be repeated anywhere else in the near future.
|EXPECTATIONS FOR FUTURE SCHOOL VIOLENCE|
|More school shootings|| 72%|| 80%|
|Won't be repeated|| 22%|| 15%|
WHY IT HAPPENED
One reason that such an event is expected to recur may be that the public still views the Littleton shooting as the result of individual, not societal, problems. This sentiment has increased in the past year. 40% of Americans now think that the main reason Columbine happened was because the parents of the two boys responsible for the shooting neglected their children and didn't pay enough attention to warning signs.
|WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?|
|Lack of attention by parents|| 40%|| 22%|
|Exposure to media violence|| 8%|| 4%|
|Availability of guns|| 7%|| 3%|
|Lack of attention by other authorities|| 7%|| 11%|
A CBS News Poll conducted immediately following the incident showed that 22% of Americans blamed the parents. In addition, while they are seen as less responsible than individuals, more Americans now blame violence in TV and movies and the availability of guns for the students' actions.
This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,150 adults interviewed by telephone April 15-17, 2000. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the total sample.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
Americans express some optimism that school violence can be addressed and prevented. 56% think that we have learned from tragedies like this and can prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. 37% think we cannot prevent them. Yet even among those who DO think we can prevent them, 66% expect that there will be more school shootings in the future.
As they did one year ago, Americans still believe the schools in their community are safe places. 37% say their local schools are extremely or very safe, and just under half rate their schools somewhat safe. Only 15% think their local schools are unsafe. Parents with children in school have a similar view of the safety of their local schools. These percentages are unchanged since last year.
As it has for the past nine months, education remains a top problem that Americans want the government to address in the coming year, mentioned by 9%. But despite the anniversaries this week of a number of violent episodes the Littleton school shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing and the confrontation at Waco and the fact that more Americans no blame the Littleton shooting on the availability of guns, only 4% name guns as a problem they would like to see the President or Congress do something about.
|MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM FOR GOVERNMENT|
|Social Security/Medicare|| 8%|
|Health Care|| 7%|
COLUMBINE AND THE ELECTION
On three issues that relate to the Columbine shooting -- education, school violence, and gun control -- Vice President Al Gore has an edge over Texas Governor George W. Bush. More registered voters say Gore would be better than Bush at handling education, and by narrow margins think that Gore would be more likely to reduce school violence, and that Gore's position is closer than Bush's ttheir own views on gun control .
|GORE vs. BUSH|
|Better at handling education|| 43%|| 36%|
|Would reduce school violence|| 35%|
|Agree with on gun control|| 35%|| 31%|
A significant proportion of registered voters are undecided, particularly on the questions about gun control and school violence.
Overall, registered voters in this poll are closely divided in their preference in the general election 43% favor Bush, while 41% favor Gore. But nearly half the voters are either undecided or are not firmly committed to their current choice. In fact, the percentage of voters paying close attention to the campaign has declined since the primary season. Now, just 19% of registered voters say they are paying a lot of attention to the campaign down from 25% last month.
|CHOICE IN NOVEMBER|