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Clinton Asks Americans To Search Hearts For An Answer To Bloodshed

Sun., March 29, 1998

As mourners in his home state bury three more of the dead, President Clinton urged the nation to seek out reasons why two young boys allegedly gunned down four classmates and a teacher outside their school.

“We do not understand what drives children, whether in small towns or big cities, to pick up guns and take the lives of others. We may never make sense of the senseless, but we have to try,” Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, said in his weekly radio address. The address was taped in Cape Town, South Africa, where Clinton was in the middle of a 12-day African tour.

The president noted that the Jonesboro shooting was the third time in recent months that a quiet town was “shaken by the awful specter of students being killed by other young people at schools.” In December, a boy opened fire on a student prayer circle at a high school in West Paducah, Ky., killing three students and wounding five. Two months earlier, two students were fatally shot in Pearl, Miss.

Clinton mentioned each of the dead by name and said, “We have to understand that young children may not fully appreciate the consequences of actions that are destructive but may be able to be romanticized at a twisted moment.

“We have to make sure that they don’t fall into that trap.”

The president said parents should take comfort in a federal report released earlier this month that declared a vast majority of the nation’s schools safe.

“We’ve worked hard to make our schools places of learning, not fear - places where children can worry about math and science, not guns, drugs and gangs,” he said. “But when a terrible tragedy like this occurs, it reminds us there is work yet to be done.”



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