As millions of children head back to school in the U.S., YNN's Geoff Redick takes a closer look at whether we're being desensitized to in school violence and why that may be.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Visit any public pool or swimming hole and you'll find there are plenty of rules and safety measures.
"No running, no jumping on people's backs, no piggy-back rides," Schenectady Central Park lifeguard Taylor DeThorne lists a few examples, "For swimming, you need a photo ID. Mostly for safety purposes."
With as many as seven lifeguards surveying the waters at Central Park, most parents and families feel comfortable bringing their kids to swim on a hot day. But sending them back to school in just two weeks is more of a concern these days.
"Even the bus can be unsafe. You just never know what people are gonna do," said Trista Bleja as she watched her young brother and sister swimming at Central Park on Wednesday. "My mom will bring them to school herself sometimes, just to be safe."
It's a concern that's been born out numerous times since the infamous and deadly Columbine High School attack and again after 20 children were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year.
This past Tuesday in Decatur, Georgia, the scenario played out again: Michael Brandon Hill, 20, is accused of sneaking into an elementary school with guns, holding employees hostage and carrying out a gun battle with police. No one was injured, but the event highlighted the ease with which a determined person can gain access to a school.
"It does scare me, all the stuff going on in this world today," said Pat Rejack, visiting the pool with a two-year-old and five-year-old. "It's terrible."
Though she was horrified when she heard about the Decatur, Georgia incident, Rejack was just one of the several people YNN spoke with at Central Park who had not heard of the incident until we told them. Each claimed to follow current events with some regularity, but none noticed or remembered a headline about the Decatur, Georgia incident despite it being featured on numerous national news outlets.
It's a trend that's also evident in the news itself: A quick internet search yields dozens of local stories from across the country about guns smuggled into elementary and high schools just this year. But none of these stories rose to national headlines, including one in Sullivan County, New York this past spring.
"After a while, we do get somewhat desensitized," said Dr. Rudy Nydegger.
The Schenectady-based psychologist has spoken at length about dealing with violence in schools. But even Nydegger understands that sometimes, people push that sort of news and information out of their minds.
"(It's a) traumatic sort of thing. People say, 'Enough is enough. I just can't even listen to this anymore.' And even if they hear about it, they don't want to think about it."
But Nydegger points out that such reactions, or even harboring any fear over the subject, aren't necessarily reasonable responses during the back to school season.
"Actual incidence of school related gun violence are still minuscule. If you think of the millions and millions of kids and thousands and thousands of schools, most of them are pretty safe," he said.
In addition, scores of elementary, middle and high schools across the country re-assessed their safety protocols in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. It doesn't mean folks are happy they're not hearing about guns and violence in schools.
"I do think we should know more about what's going on," said Pat Rejack.
But people YNN spoke with are, at least, more motivated to get involved and help protect their children and loved ones.
"You've got actually care," said Bleja. "No matter how many times it may happen, it's still important."