A Brief History
On September 3, 2004, the 3 day long nightmare at Beslan School Number 1 in Beslan, Russia finally came to an end. The long hostage crisis and eventual shootout and massacre left 385 people dead, nearly 10 times more than the second deadliest school massacre in history! (Not counting wartime activities.)
The horrible event was engineered by Islamic separatists from Chechnya and Ingushetia, 32 terrorist by government accounts, but the actual number of terrorists is debatable. Over 1100 hostages were taken, almost ¾ children under 18 years old. The terrorists were from the Chechnyan based Ryadus-Salikhin Battalion seeking the independence of Chechnya. (Note: It was Islamic terrorists from Russia that perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.)
The Russian government forces finally assaulted the terrorists with their hostages using tanks and military weapons, and in the firefight that ensued 31 of the 32 terrorists were killed, but so were 186 children and 174 other people (military men among them). Additionally, another 783 people were injured. (Note: The death toll may be somewhat higher than the reported number.)
Despite obvious criticism of the government strong arm tactics, the event actually solidified control of Russia for Vladimir Putin and his cronies. National sentiment was turned against the terrorists and toward a strong and decisive central government.
Despite popular impressions that the US has some sort of corner on the school massacre market, only about 8 or 9 of the 30 deadliest school massacres have occurred in the US. Of course, incidents in the US get tremendous publicity, but you may be surprised to know the worst (by fatalities) school massacre in US history happened way back in 1927, at Bath Township, Michigan, where a guy named Andrew Kehoe (age 55) killed 44 people (including his wife and himself) and wounded another 58, mostly with dynamite bombs and incendiary devices.
The subject of school safety and protection against massacres is a hotly debated topic in the US. Suggestions that armed police be assigned to every school or that teachers and other trained and responsible adults be armed in the schools have received negative feedback from much of the public, while the other half derides symbolic gestures such as “gun control” that has proven ineffective time and again. At the college level, it has been suggested that students themselves be allowed to carry guns (with certified training) for self protection, another contentious idea.
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you suggest to keep our schools safe? Please share your ideas in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Giduck, John. Terror at Beslan: A Russian Tragedy with Lessons for America’s Schools. 2005.
Phillips, Timothy. Beslan: The Tragedy Of School No. 1. Granta Books, 2014.