Violence Essay, Research Paper
Two students walked into Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, armed with shotguns and explosives. The incident ended with tragic results. 15 families lost a brother, a sister, a child, a niece, or a nephew. From this incident many questions were left unanswered. How did the children get the guns? Why did they do it? And most importantly, if a school like Columbine could be the target of such a violent rampage, how protected are we the youth from random acts of violence? In this paper I will try to answer some of these questions.
The first question i would like to address is why. Youth violence in america has had quite an extensive history. This problem has plagued the ghettos and hoods of large cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston for the last 20 years. In fact about 2300 homicides are recorded a year by 18 or younger children. However, until recently it has been overlooked. America was horrified as they watched the live coverage of Columbine students running scared from the overtaken school. This shocked the american public. Never before had such horror taken place in the suburbs of America.
This forced people to ask why, to face the problem. Right away the parents and the public blamed music television. This is an easy scapegoat for the people to use. But the fact is that music and television play a very small role in teen violence. The most significant and outstanding quality of a violent teen is that of the impact their parents had on them. Child abuse, sexual abuse, and parents exhibiting violence towards each other are the 3 main factors in developing a violent teen.
When brought up in homes, children learn from what they see and how their parents act. Often a child brought up in a violent family will learn that violence is “ok” and will become violent in nature during their early adolescence years. This can result with the child at n increased risk of joining gangs. Yet through all the domestic violence, lack of a parental figure, or supportive guidance can corrupt a child. With more and more women joining the work force, often the children are alone, and without a supportive sibling. One out of every ten children comes home to an empty house. More than sixty percent of all children will spend at least some time in a household with only one parent. These children will learn from others, try to fit in. This can also lead to gang and to violent outbreaks due to lack of affection.
I had also stated that sexual abuse was a large factor in violent teens. Violence is also highly apparent in female victims as well as males. It is most often a female child rather than a male child in sexual abuse cases. One in four females are sexually abused by the age of 18 compared to only one in six males. Sexual abuse leaves the victim feeling shameful, afraid, and in a state of powerlessness.
Unless the problem is dealt with at a young age, the victim will result with emotional disturbances, and problems with future relationships. Sometimes the anger built up will reach a point where they will kill their abuser. The victim continues to have a low self-esteem level, to the point that they (in most case’s female) will believe they deserve nothing better than being abused. 6 to 10 million women are battered by male partners every year. This can lead to females acquiring eating disorders and even attempt suicide.
The next question i would like to approach an hopefully answer is where do these kids get the guns. The obvious answer to this question is the people who sell these guns. Although it is the wrong answer. It is nearly impossible for any persons under the age of 21 to buy a handgun legally in the United States. Legally is the key word in that sentence. Many of the guns used in teen shootings were acquired straight from the juveniles home without parental knowledge.
There are ways to keep your children away from these dangerous weapons. All guns should be placed in a safe place out of the reach of children. A locked case without glass is the best. The ammunition should never be stored with the weapons. And one of the most important steps is that children should be taught at a young age the dangers of guns. The more the child knows the effects a weapon of that power may have the more they will understand the consequences.
The last question i will attempt to answer is, Are we safe in our schools? Over 3 million crimes are committed in our school system each year. 1 out of every ten schools will experience some type of violent attack. Every day thousands of students go to school afraid. They are not afraid that the teachers going to find out they didn’t do their homework, or afraid of doing a presentation, they’re fearful of their lives. On average 14% of students that go to school every day do not feel safe. 4% of the student population will stay home one or more days this month out of fear. This happened right here in our own school. A violent threat was posted in one of our boys bathrooms. On the day of the supposed attack only one fourth of the school was present. Not even elementary schools are safe students. In Bridgeport, CT, an elementary school had to install bulletproof windows after stray bullets were shot from surrounding housing projects into the school.
Many schools have increased their security. Chain link fences protect from unwanted visitors, metal detectors scan for illegal weapons, panic buttons are installed in classrooms, some schools such as our own ban book bags or the use of lockers. But even these measures do not fully protect the students. In urban schools fire drills are followed by drive by drills. Students are requested to lie flat on the ground at the sound of gunfire. Police visit classrooms to teach students how to deal with someone facing them with a weapon. Many schools have banned the wearing of certain colors related to gang violence.
In some communities there is not enough funding for these types of security increases. Every day 135,000 weapons are brought into school. One fourth of students have been threatened with a weapon while school had been in session. Items such as jackets and jewelry will literally be taken off the backs if someone wants it. 9 out of every 10 incidents of threatening is never reported. 20% of suburban students claimed that if someone stole an item of there’s that they would kill them. 8% claimed if someone looked at them funny, or were in some way “dissing” them they would also kill them. A lot of students feel that if they do not pull the trigger than in some way they would be considered weaker. The three main reasons for killing another teen are stealing, jealousy (usually over an ex), or if they felt that they were given disrespect.
Most of the 135,000 weapons brought to schools are not intended for use. Most students will bring weapons because they fear for their safety. This can also be a problem. In 1994 in Valley High school a student worried about his safety decided to bring in a handgun to protect himself. One day while heading to his next class the gun dropped to ground and fired, taking the life of an innocent teenager.
With all the violence that constantly surrounds us, the most startling is when the rural school systems becomes a shooting grounds. In the past 4 years there have been 15 rural school shootings. The most horrifying being Columbine High School. It is my hope that someday this terrible plague will be completely resolved. And until then i will pray for those who have lost and will lose their lives to teen violence.