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School Violence
by Colin Davis
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A problem in the United States of America for quite some time now has been the issue of school violence. A bigger problem is that people are not aware of how big of an issue this is. A lot of people believe that if you ignore a problem it will go away. I think this is a problem that has been ignored far to long.

I believe that we are a society of people that believe that children are not capable of horrible acts of violence even after we have witnessed it for many years. The thought that our 13 year-old boy or girl is capable of taking another's child life is a sickening feeling we would rather not have. So we ignore the problem. By doing this not only are we hurting ourselves, but also we as a society put the lives of millions of children at risk. So that leads me to my question: What can Schools do to Stop School Violence?

Probably the most single important thing than anything else is to just listen. Listen to your child and everything that goes on around school between students and faculty. Nine times out of ten when there is an altercation in schools, it is previously discussed by students prior to anything happening. Terry McCarthy of Time Magazine, reminds us not to forget about Santee, California where Andy Williams hinted to classmates that he was going to "pull a Columbine" on Santana High, two of his friends called him a "pussy" and dared him to do it. The only thing those students had to do was listen and take Andy serious. If they had maybe two students could have lived to graduate and thirteen other could have made it through life without any gunshot wounds. Not that I want to blame these two students- on the other hand, I do blame them. They had a responsibility to seek help. Instead they felt it was "cool" to dare a person to come to school and kill classmates. "We didn't think he would do it", "It was just a joke". Were probably excuses they gave, that sickens me. It is unacceptable.

Another case where people especially school personal failed to listen was Kip Kinkel. Dr. Helen Smith, a child psychiatrist, reminds us that Kinkel was on Prozac and his classmates voted him "most likely to start World War III". How did this get ignored? If someone views another person like this there is a serious problem somewhere. Unfortunately we did not listen here either. The result, Kinkel kills his parents and takes of for combat at "school"!?. What is wrong with this picture here? Kinkel, Williams, and several other school shooters all told classmates in advance that they were planning something. What will it take for us to listen?

It is time for schools to serious look at this world and come to grips with reality. Some kids are really crazy, and when they talk of killing they are "dead" serious. That means we start now to look for warning signs. Warning signs can range from kids who have had a violent history with other student all the way through preschool to bed wetting. Abuse and drugs are big signs. There are often warning signs that will continue to be ignored however. Dr. Helen Smith tells us that head banging and screaming uncontrollably at ages three or four are trouble signs, as are fire setting and cruelty to animals. Parents and educators often overlook these warning signs though.

Once warning signs are established prevention needs to be assessed. How can schools prevent school violence? We have already said that we should listen to kids. Most of the recent school shooters informed someone of their intentions. Dr. Helen Smith believes that if Kip Kinkel had been sent for 30-days of psychological observation a tragedy would have been adverted. School officials never knew classmates considered him dangerous. That's why the school just sent him home under a "zero tolerance" policy. When he arrived home he killed his parents. Schools have got to know their students better and express to them the importance of reporting all threats no matter how little. Dr. Helen Smith believes that schools should keep their existing "zero tolerance" programs to keep guns out of schools, but they should also use zero tolerance against bullying, teasing, and ostracism. Not only would such a program do more to prevent school killings, but also it would probably improve the lives of the vast majority of nerds and out cast who will never be killers.

Throughout this essay I often ask the question what can schools do? Parents and students can also help.

Parents will always be the person closest to their children; we expect them to be aware of what their children are doing and to deal with problems before it is too late. Parents need to stop looking at their child's behavior and coming to the conclusion that "this is just a phase". Be real with your kids. Don't be afraid to ask them what they like, who their friends are, what make them mad and so on. Get to know your children so that when something is wrong you can see that. Don't lecture or criticize your kids. Ask non- threatening questions so that they will feel comfortable about opening up with you. If you show a child you care he or she will never forget that.

What can students do? Try not to provoke students. If a student seems mad don't press the situation, get help and don't worry about being a "rat" or a "snitch", your life may depend on it. Always make sure the proper authorities know about dangerous students. If you believe a student is dangerous- he is. That's the attitude you have to take towards students and schools now. Feel pressured into getting help. It may be the best decision you ever make in your life. Stay away from pranks. You never know when someone is taking something totally different than you are till it's to late. Be a friend to your self and classmates, get help when you feel it's needed. Whenever there is a physical altercation brewing between you and another student be mature, walk away and get help.

One thing that should always be remembered is that the best protection against school violence is to be found in caring, hands- on teachers and responsible involved parents.