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.