Putting an End to School Violence

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On April 20, 1999, students arrived at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They had no idea that 12 students and 1 teacher wouldn’t be leaving by the end of the day. What could ever drive two high school students to the point where the only answer was death and suicide? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold took the only answer to their graves.
And it gets worse. Since Columbine, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, Oregon, Michigan and Tennessee have had violence plaguing there schools with children as young as 9 years old committing the acts. School should be the last place that a parent should fear for their child’s life. Juvenile homicide is now twice as
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common as it was in the 1980’s and that statistic is rising. To stop a problem like this you must know where it starts.
     To do this, you need to know what drove these kids to commit such an act. It seems that most politicians blame television and video games for the violence in the school system. “People keep saying video games and movies caused the violence. It's absolutely the reverse. Part of the attraction young people have to violent video games is simply a reaction to their imprisoning school system… and the harsher and wilder the video games or the speed metal music, the more inspired the young people feel, because there's nothing else in the cultural environment to inspire them” (Sischy 1999: 2).
Jason Dorsey, a motivational speaker and author of the book "Can Students End School Violence?" believes it’s the fear
of being excluded. “The fear is not that they will get shot or stabbed. It’s that they will have to sit in the cafeteria all alone during lunch. Or that they will raise their hand to ask a question and be made fun of” (Creegan 2000: 1).
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     Fear and low self-esteem seem to go hand and hand now a day in our school system. The two together can lead to a dangerous combination that has the power to not only change lives, but end them as well. “Once a student’s self-esteem is affected and they no longer care about their future, then the physical violence starts” (Creegan 2000: 2).
     It makes sense then to start at an early age before self-esteem and discrimination has a chance to enter a child’s life. Myrna Shure, PhD, a psychology professor at MCP Hahnemann

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University believes that ”If they can grow up as thinking and feeling human beings who care about themselves and others," she said, "they will be more empathic, successful at making friends and will be able to make responsible decisions in light of their potential consequences” (Volz 1999: 1).
     How do you make sure that children grow up thinking like that without taking away their right to be individuals? The biggest problem is that there is no easy solution. The panel on school violence “discussed a variety of solutions – after school programs, mental health counseling and student problem
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solving. But what they all quickly realized was the sobering truth that there are no easy solutions” (Thomas 1999: 1).
     To heal the nation of a wound like this it is going to take time and cooperation between parents, students, the school systems and the community. Parents need to be there for their children. “You can make a difference in our society, just by being present in the life of a child, whether it’s your child, or someone else’s. Just by being a friend, a mentor, a sounding board – just by carrying enough to show up” (Case 1998: 1).
     Students need to learn that what they do and say really affect the life of someone else. What may been meant as a harmless joke could end up being devastating to someone else. “Statistics show that most school shootings in the U.S. could have been prevented by someone who had knowledge of the shootings in advance” (http://Ehelp911.Com). Sites like this one allow students to get involved in the fight against school violence.
School systems can start by adding more after school

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programs besides varsity sports to allow students of all types to participate in something together. Also they can look into help from an outside organization like “New Century Solutions” (www.newcentsol.com) which specifies in school violence prevention.
      Also, schools can benefit from web sites like The National Crime and Prevention Center’s ( www.ncpc.org ) which features information for everyone on how to make your community safer. This includes tips on managing conflicts for students and signs to watch out for that parents would appreciate.
     Stopping violence in schools must start by stopping violence in the community that surrounds the school system. In the community, it is everyone’s responsibility to help out. By being involved in their community, parents will begin to get involved in their children’s lives. It turns out that both have a lot to learn from each other.

Case, Dan. 1998. “Stopping School Violence: Having A Positive
Presence.” Case Studies. May 29, 1998. <http://case

Creegan, Catherine. “Interview With Jason Dorsey.” New Haven
     Registrar. Dec 1, 2000. <http://www.newhavenregistrar.

Sischy, Ingrid. “Why School?” Interview. July 1999. <http://www

Thomas, Pierre. “Panel probing School Shootings Finds No Easy
     Solutions.” CNN.com. May 21, 1999. http://www.Cnn.com

Volz, John. “School Violence.” Monitor Online. Volume 30 #9,
     1999. http://www.monitoronline.com

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