Organic Matter: CDC links start of school, Christmas holidays with more killings on campus

The opening of a new school year is almost upon us with the Kingman Unified School District to begin classes Thursday and the Kingman Academy of Learning next Monday.

Eagle Academy in Golden Valley already has started with students returning to classrooms there Aug.

7.

I hope an Associated Press story out of Atlanta will not come to pass in Kingman.

According to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the start of a school year and the week immediately after the Christmas holiday break is the time when most killings occur on school campuses.

It's a time of change and stress for students as they try to adjust to new teachers, new classrooms, new schedules and new classmates.

Any combination of those factors holds the potential to bring out violent behavior.

A CDC study examined the 1992-93 through 1998-99 school years.

It stated there is one school-related killing in the United States for every seven school days.

February was found to be the most violent month with one homicide every four days.

September was next with one killing every six days.

The "safest" month was December with one homicide every 15 days.

At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

where 12 students and a teacher were slain by two suicidal students in April 1999, school officials plan anti-violence programs throughout the year.

Schools in Jefferson County, where Columbine High is located, will pay special attention this year to students starting their first year of middle or high school, district spokeswoman Marilyn Saltzman said.

"It's the issue of making them feel welcome, helping them to learn how to become a part of a new school," she said.

"How do you make them feel comfortable?"

While the Columbine tragedy pushed campus violence into the spotlight, it should be noted from the report that campus violence has steadily declined over the last decade.

Less than 1 percent of homicides or suicides among school-aged children occur on school grounds.

Students commit suicide at school more often during the spring with a rate that is virtually steady from January through June.

The CDC stated that, overall, one student took his or her own life for every 31 school days during the study period.

Officials with the Kingman Unified School District are on record as having a zero tolerance policy for violence.

However, superintendent Mike Ford could not be contacted Friday for comment on the CDC story.

* * *

It's vacation time, again.

My wife, Colleen, and I enjoyed a vacation at one of the hotels in Laughlin during the first week of June.

But that seems like months ago, rather than just weeks and we're ready for another week of fun in the sun.

I will be off until Aug.

21.

We have company coming to visit this week, someone we haven't seen in 12 years.

I shall not go into any more about it at this point, as I would prefer to write just how we spent the time together in a column after I return to work.

Perhaps, the reason I am so looking forward to a second vacation week this summer is how hectic it got at the Daily Miner after the first week off.

There were tab sections to do for Meet Your Merchant and the Newcomer's Guide.

In addition, the annual back-to-school section appeared last Thursday.

Fortunately, I did not have to type in the bus schedules.

That task fell to a colleague.

Still ahead is Destination Kingman that everyone in the newsroom eagerly looks forward to each year.

Each reporter can count on having two stories and photos to do for each of four issues that come out on the last two Sundays of October and first two Sundays of November.

Christmas can't get here soon enough, not because I'm expecting any special presents but simply because the reporters' routine will be closer to normal.

In itself, that is a present.

Terry Organ is the Miner's education, health and weather reporter.