Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Real World Wednesday

School Violence

I can't profess to know a great deal about this. I can't even pretend that I can possibly understand what it means to go to school in fear each day.

I graduated high school the year before the Columbine shootings, and I know that the general attitude in high schools changed after that. I was in the last of the high school classes in America to not live with the images of Columbine as I walked up the front steps to my own high school.

With the latest incident in Cleveland today, I am speechless. Apparently the school's security guard was on vacation (shouldn't the company send another guard to cover the absent guard's shifts?), and two full-time guard positions had been eliminated in recent years. One guard in a large public high school in a metropolitan area doesn't seem like the best idea, but I don't have the background knowledge.

I could relate Columbine and the "Trench Coat Mafia" to memories of my high school. I felt grateful that the two guys in my class who were ignored by everyone and actively hated by several of the popular kid never came to school with weapons. We had gangs in my school, but they kept their violence off-campus and kept their outbursts to tagging the lockers.

The myths about the perpetrators of high school violence inlcude such statements as, "He was a loner," and "We did everything we could to help." It's true that these are the myths surrounding the shoot-outs involving a single perpetrator, but what about violence on campus in general? What about kids going to school in fear for their lives because of kid-on-kid gang violence? According to the myths, as well, school violence isn't nearly as rampant as we think it is, with "only" 12-20 homicides per year, nation-wide. Yes, maybe "only" 12-20 people are killed by a seemingly unexpected shooter during the school day, but what about someone who gets shot on campus by a rival gang member or who is an innocent by-stander. What about violence that doesn't involve guns? What about schools that care more about the color or your shoes than about the knife someone brought to school? What about the schools that break up smooching couples but let the guy getting high get by without even a warning?

I can't pretend to have answers. Real World Wednesday may sometimes be about directing people to resources, but today, I have nothing. I could encourage those of you who are teachers to learn mediation techniques. And I've already talked about after-school programs and getting involved in your community.

So, today, I simply mourn the fact that in the mini-societies we have let teenagers create, violence is an accepted part of life. I mourn that television and video games have desensitized kids to the point where they don't know what it means to snuff out a life.

I pray for the soul of the fourteen year old child who thought the only answer to his problems was to shoot up his school and then end his own life.


Mommy of two in small town USA said...

School violence is very real and very scary. I am a teacher in a middle school and we face it there too. I think one sad fact that really dictates some of the coverage is money. Many school districts just don't have the money for the needed personal. At one point they have to make a choice, teachers in the classrooms or security guards in the halls. Now, the the No Child Left Behind act (I mean crap) many districts are really pushing for more teachers just to help the school make the progress with test scores (little side note, the government really wants the schools to have 100% of all students performing at grade level in the next 5 - 10 years, no matter if they have learning disabilities or just don't care, we have to prove that everyone is perfect - a little unrealistic if you've ever been in the schools)

So, the violence, in our elementary district we actually practice lock downs, yes will little kids! We have to find places in the classrooms to hid so people can't find us. How scary is that?

Bullies, the other really big thing, not only do the teachers (who are numbered 28 students to 1 teacher in my school) have to teach the class but we also have to patrol the halls and every other square foot of the building becuase students just don't behaive themsleves. Now, as you pointed out this is a small population, but when you are picking on someone, all it takes is one bad kid to really scare you. It never fails, that one bully comes from a home where no one cares, they say its not our fault, you do something about it. Its all very sad, the buck is passed from one person to the next. I can only imagine what its like by the time these kids get to high school.

As a 6th grade teacher, there have been a few kids that I have been afraid to approach, they are violent and don't care who they hurt. When I was pregnate there was one boy I avioded all together for fear he would hurt me or the baby. And I'm an adult! When these kids feel they have nothing to lose and they fear nothing, the rest of us have all the more to fear ourselves. It is a sad state for our education system and I fear for my own kids who are not yet out of diapers.

Good Real World post, thanks for making me think and letting me vent.

Sarah said...

Mommy of Two - thank you for piping in - a teacher would certainly know more about this than me. Thank you for speaking up!