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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Victims of Violence

School violence has many victims. Those shot, those wounded, those who survive. Last week, an 18- year old boy in Alabama went to school with a gun. He stood in the gym, fired a shot into the ceiling to get the attention of nearly 150 classmates, then shot himself while they watched. He died. They didn’t. But how many will have nightmares, unable to erase the sound, the smell, the sight of a violent death right in front of them.

School violence has many victims. Those who recall things they might’ve said or done to him, maybe things they didn’t say or do for him. In an era when being a teenager is harder than ever, to witness such a horror is to know tragedy in a way most can never grasp. To say being a teenager today is tough is cliché. To know there must be a solution is naïve. To want answers and a way to smooth the way is idealistic. But to not try is to condone the daily apathy – and cruelty – we see in so many of our youth.

Today’s kids worry about fitting in, avoiding the bully who’s picked on them since third grade, and what to wear that won’t get them teased. Top that off with the stressors of drugs, gangs, and sex, they can’t even get to the issue of homework and making good grades. Kids who’re lucky enough to avoid many of these pitfalls have their own worries. And even what doesn’t happen in their world, because our media is obsessed with instilling fear in our nationwide audience, will leak into their sheltered world.

School violence has many victims, and the reality is, the American psyche is one of them.


KIM MOSER said...

You are so right. My 7th grade daughter has been confiding in me about the pressures she's been facing. All her "friends" are now wearing make-up, dressing like college students, cussing like sailors, and exploring the opposite sex, not to mention flirting with drugs and alcohol. This is my 12 year old daughter! She goes to a tiny school with just one class per grade level. What is it going to be like for her when she's a high schooler?

rabber said...

I think the media shares a portion of the responsibility in how they report these tragedies. Kids always want an audience.

rabber said...

Thanks Barri for all the new information. I've already used many of the strategies we learned at the academy in my classroom. You made the whole experience interesting and fun!

Juanita said...

I'm in the middle of reading (actually "listening to CD's of") Jodi Piccoult's book Nineteen Minutes, which surrounds a school shooting. I'm only half-way through and thinking the boy might just get off the charges, due to all the bullying done to him from Day 1 of kindergarten. Battered child syndrome? I'll see how Piccoult ends the book ... doubt it will be a happy ending, though.