School Violence Shoots Up, Students Are Shot Down: What To Do Essay, Research Paper
20 November, 2000
“School Violence Shoots Up, Students are Shot Down: What To Do”
After shootings at Jonesboro, Ark, Paducah, Ky, Springfield, Ore, Pearl, Miss, and Littleton, Co, serious questions arise such as has school violence risen, and, if so, what can we do to fix it. The truth is, school violence is on a rise, and it can be attributed to factors such as disinterest in learning, the total preservation of the civil rights of the students at all costs, and the lack of power the teachers and administrators have to punish misbehavior. Solutions such as forcing school uniforms, voluntary learning, and peer mediation take a long time to implement and an even longer time to see visible results, but they are necessary to ensure our future in America as educated peoples. We must be careful, though, to not go overboard in creating laws such as the zero tolerance rule in order to keep our schools both safe and fair.
In finding appropriate, working solutions to school violence, we first need to find the root of the problem. Does the accessibility of guns really play a major role in the problem? The answer is no, it does not. Putting up metal detectors, forcing mesh (see-through) backpacks, and hiring thousands of uniformed security guards will not solve the problem (Cloud 1). Finding a permanent, better resulting answer demands a closer look at where the problem starts. Kids are growing up these days with little or no real punishment compared to thirty years ago. Kids just do not respect the teacher’s authority anymore because parents, concerned for the civil rights of their children, make teachers go through a long litany of proceedings in order to punish a student (Toby 3). A hearing must take place during which accusations must be made fully supported by witnesses to these accusations to suspend a misbehaving student. Ideas such as “zero tolerance” are created to try and give power immediately back to the teachers, yet it only causes more problems. The zero tolerance punishes severely any violation of a law, no matter how small or large the infraction might be, in order to make an example (Skiba 3). This punishing just discourages most students. As one interviewed student said, “when they suspend you, you get in more trouble, ‘cause you’re out in the street…I got in trouble more than I get in trouble at school, because I got arrested and everything” (5). The number of those punished unfairly for their small crime far outweighs the few appropriately punished violators. Furthermore, larger schools mean less community involvement, which is where students first learn fundamental ethics and punishment. Putting kids in a prison-like educational environment will only lessen the education they receive. These so-called safety measures would not have stopped the tragic school shootings. A better way of ending all the violence is through community involvement. Reestablishing the family-student connection would presumable rekindle students’ interest in learning (Toby 3). Putting the parent, the most influential and basic teacher of a child, back into a kid’s life is a big step in the process of ending school violence. This way, the child can learn the basic rules of living that he or she cannot learn in a school. Hopefully, with the parent involved, the students would resist going to school less, and, in turn, would behave better.
The Japanese take the students desire to go to school even more seriously. Instead of forcing kids to attend classes up to a certain age as we do in America, Japanese students are given the option of going to school (6-7). A major problem with our school system is that large portions of students do not want to be students. Making high school voluntary will enormously increase the production of kids. It will allow those desirous of learning to not only learn with fewer distractions, but also help them learn even more information. Voluntary high schools will be able to raise standards and expectations, which will in turn produce more assiduous, intelligent graduates. Students would then be compelled to obey teachers, and the teachers would be less afraid students who want to learn (4-5). The Japanese schools are proof such theories work. They permit their kids to choose to go to school, while at the same time doing everything they can to make students want and feel they need an education. Though the Japanese method, once in place, seems to work sufficiently in keeping violence to a minimum, more safeguards and ideas are needed to attain a high level of safety in schools.
Soon after the horrid murders at Columbine High School, President Clinton held an open question and answer discussion with students from T.C. Williams High School during which much gainful insight was learned about school violence. All students have their own way of dealing with rejection, low grades, or losing a football game. The idea is to make sure none of these ways include going on a shooting spree. Systems need to be put in place for students to vent their anger. A proven method of resolving problems and of helping vent anger is a peer mediation program (Lehrer 6). This is one of the best-known ways to reduce school violence. Students with conflicting problems come to a table that is mediated by a peer. The students are respectful and courteous towards each other, while at the same time bringing up their particular problem(s). The mediator helps the students work out their problem, but does not give them the answer. He or she makes them find the solution on their own. People do not have to come to the mediator sessions forthright. Other individuals can recommend people to the mediation program, which hastens the resolve of the problem before it gets out of control. The peer mediation program, both cheap and effective, should be instituted throughout schools everywhere.
Another method dealing with teen violence is having a teen hotline (16). As useless and simple as a hotline sounds, it provides an invaluable tool for teens to vent anger and/or solve problems. A huge benefit of the hotline is the confidentiality involved. Individuals can call about a problem of their own or a problem they think someone else has. This way, those who know the most about what is happening in schools, namely the students, can keep an eye on each other, especially the troubled classmates.
One final method of dealing with school violence is instituting uniforms. Although some students object on the basis of freedom infringement, studies show schools with uniforms are much less likely to experience acts of violence. President Clinton, after studying uniform wearing students from Long Beach, California, said, “kids from upper-income as well as lower-income families did better [in school]…. And it lowered dropouts, it increased attendance, [and] it reduced discipline problems” (23). Though met with some opposition, school uniforms, which help students do better in school and help them behave better, appear more and more in schools across the nation.
With such a high death toll accumulating from teen shootings, school violence is being scrutinized to the very last detail. Our current methods are either insufficient in results or not used in all high schools throughout America. School violence is on a rise, and it is directly related to factors such as disinterest in learning, the total preservation of civil rights of students at all costs, and the lack of power teachers and administrators have to punish students. We need uniforms, peer mediation, voluntary high schools, and a reconnecting of community and school in all schools in order to overcome the rising violence. It is up to everyone to do his or her own part in keeping peace, and making sure we implement these safeguards to help obtain and keep the peace.
Cloud, John, and Cathy Booth, et al. “What Can the Schools Do?” Time 3 May, 1999.
Britannica.com. CD-ROM. Information Access. 15 Nov. 2000
Lehrer, Jim. “Re: School Violence.” Online Posting. 22 April, 1999. Online NewHour.
16 Nov. 2000
Skiba, Russ, and Reece Peterson. “The Dark Side of Zero Tolerance.” Phi Delta Kappan
Jan. 1999. Britannica.com. CD-ROM. Information Access. 14 Nov. 2000.
Toby, Jackson. “Getting Serious About School Discipline.” Public Interest. Fall 1998.
Britannica.com. CD-ROM. Information Access 15 Nov. 2000