School massacres or school shootings are especially heinous due to the age of the victims and the due to inability of the victims to defend themselves from armed perpetrators. School massacres are often associated to the US, but this list looks to go beyond and assess school massacres from across the world.
The impact and severity of school massacres cannot be determined by the sheer number of victims alone. To understand the impact of such an inhumane incident, we need to assess the impact it has had on the community and in terms of legislative reforms. This list is thus made with keeping impact in mind and not the number of victims since that will be an unethical way to determine how horrific a school massacre is. The list is in no particular order and having established that, let’s get started.
1. Columbine School Massacre (1999)
The Columbine School Massacre is one of the most horrific in the history of United States. The School Massacre was orchestrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They were delinquents and outcasts within the school society and ended up rebelling in the most heinous of ways. They killed 12 students and one teacher before turning the gun on themselves. As a community, Columbine took decades to heal over the loss that they experienced. In addition, lawmakers started looking at gun control more seriously. There are a number of theories that float around to explain why the massacre happened. But most theories boil down to the perpetrators being emotionally unstable and suffering psychological syndromes coupled with the availability of firearms with little to no background checks.
2. Peshawar School Massacre (2014)
School shootings are often regrettably associated with the United States of America. But this massacre occurred in Pakistan. With many global forums calling similar instances as the US styled school shootings. But the Peshawar School Massacre was an act of terrorism and stands apart in this list because of the sheer horrific incidents that followed. A group of six terrorists who were associated with Tehrik-i-Taliban infiltrated the Army public school in Peshawar and killed 149 people. Of the 149, 132 were children ranging from as young as 8 years old to 18 years old. The massacre caused ripples across the globe and Pakistan reacted by lifting the suspension of the Death Penalty. Four of the terrorists were hanged and the lead perpetrator, Omar Khorasani, was killed in a Drone Strike.
3. Beslan School Massacre (2004)
The Beslan School Massacre is often called a Siege because it lasted for three days with armed Islamic militants taking over School Number One in Beslan, Russia. The militants demanded that Russia withdraw its forces from Chechnya. The militants had over 1,100 people as hostages. On the third day of the siege, the Russian Armed Forces entered the school with the help of heavy weapons and tanks. Around 334 people had lost their lives during the siege, of which 186 were children. The siege has caused dynamic changes to the Russian Federation. The Kremlin has strengthened its federal powers and the Russian President was given additional powers as a result of the aftermath. But questions still remain as most of the details of the massacre remains under covers and due to the Kremlin censoring most of the details related to the Beslan Siege.
4. Dunblane School Massacre (1996)
The Dunblane School Massacre stands as the most horrific in British History. The Massacre happened in Dunblane, Scotland. The shooting was done by Thomas Hamilton and it resulted in the deaths of 16 children and one teacher. And like in most school massacres, the perpetrator turned the gun on himself resulting in a final death tally of 18 people. The horrific incident has lead to the general public demanding greater gun control and thus lawmakers banned private ownership of almost all handguns. The Dunblane massacre is significant in terms of the gun legislation that it resulted in and is often cited as a key initiative against the United States and its reluctance for gun control.
5. Suzano School Massacre (2019)
This particular massacre occurred in Brazil and it should be noted that the massacre has happened during the development of this article. The sheer impact of this shooting has been immense both domestically and internationally. As of now, the death tally is at 10 people with 5 school children shot dead. The perpetrators have been identified as Guilherme Taucci Monteiro and Henrique de Castro. Although the national homicide rate in Brazil is high, school shootings are quite rare. The aftermath of this massacre will surely be felt throughout South America.
6. Montreal Massacre (1989)
The Montreal Massacre is significant due to the impact it had on Police Response in Canada during similar situations. The Montreal Massacre was caused by one individual named Lépine, who infiltrated an Engineering College and shot 14 women and injured a further 14 people of which 10 were women. The perpetrator claimed that his action was to fight feminism and is often considered as one of the most horrific crimes in Canadian history. The massacre occurred on December 6th and the day now is identified as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Some characterize the events to be anti-feminist while others argue that the perpetrator was psychopathic due to the abuse that he faced as a child. But the aftermath of the massacre resulted in lawmakers equipping and enabling the police to act much more efficiently in such situations. This coupled with greater gun control resulted in the minimized damage during the Dawson School Shootings of 2006.
7. Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre (2012)
The Massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was one of the deadliest in US history and was caused by one man, Adam Lanza. The 20-year-old individual who suffered from chronic depression and anxiety killed his mother and then drove to the school, where he killed 20 children and 6 adults. He then decided to commit suicide by turning the gun on to himself. The sheer impact of this incident has been far-reaching and has since been the focal point of the gun control debate. It is alarming and a major point of concern for activists and people in the community that a psychologically troubled adult was able to obtain guns. The shooting has resulted in some much welcome gun restriction legislation, but the United States still refrains from much needed stronger legislation against gun procurement and background checks.
8. Kenyan University Massacre (2015)
The Massacre that occurred at Garissa University college by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab. Four gunmen from the militant group infiltrated the University campus and opened fire for hours and killed a total of 147 people. This was only the second time since the US embassy bombing of 1998 that such a large number of people have lost their lives. The four gunmen had been shot and killed by police forces. The aftermath led to the Kenyan President admitting that there are not enough police personnel who are qualified and available to assist in such emergency situations. Kenya has often faced pockets of terrorism based activities due to militant groups, but the Garissa University shooting has thrown light on its inability to quickly prevent and counter such horrific instances from occurring.
9. Erfurt School Massacre (2002)
The Erfurt School Massacre is significant due to the impact it has had on Germany. The Massacre was perpetrated by Robert Steinhäuser, an expelled student who went on to kill 13 staff members, 2 students, and 1 police officer. The massacre is significant because of the development of the phrase “Mrs. Koma is Coming”, which is to warn teachers of a possible shooting in a school. This phrase was used during the Winnenden School Shooting and has thus become common knowledge for teachers to act swiftly in case of impending doom.
10. University of Texas Tower Shooting (1966)
The University of Texas Tower Shooting is one of the most horrific in history due to the sheer animosity of the perpetrator, Charles Whitman. He mercilessly targeted people of the University by being perched in the clock tower. He shot and killed 16 people and injured a further 31 people. He is also accused of killing an unborn child in this massacre. The sheer impact on society has been immense and was one of the first instances of people asking lawmakers to improve background verification system for those who wish to acquire firearms.
The list has been written keeping in mind the impact each instance has caused on society. There are numerous more such horrific massacres that have occurred across history and those will be further explored at Listsurge.com.