The reputation of U.S. schools have changed for the worst. Schools have become a death trap for whoever may enter. Innocent children are dying everyday by the hands of their careless peers. Thurston, Columbine, and Heath High Schools-just to name a few, have been battlegrounds for both students and teachers. Excuses and explanations have been made as to why students would commit such heartless acts. Courses of actions such as gun control, the attempt to admit prayer back into schools and blaming television networks
School shootings have been the biggest nightmare that any school system could face. Just hours after he killed his parents, Kip Kinkel opened fire at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. Two classmates were killed and 25 others injured. “Goddamn these voices inside my head,” screamed Kinkel during his interrogation. Doctors called by Kinkel’s de0fense team testified at his sentencing hearing that they found Kinkel to be a paranoid schizophrenic driven to kill by hallucinations. Psychologists say that some of his actions were influenced by violence seen on television and video games. “We need to do a better job as a society working with our children and maybe turn off the T.V. Where all they do is watch violence, see violence, and hear violence,” said Ben Marlin, the Superintendent of schools. Joyce Niftier, a private investigator also testified that she found frequent cases of mental illness-including schizophrenia-in Kinkel’s extended family. Kinkel pleaded g!
uilty to four counts of murder and 26 counts of attempted murder. Now at the age of 18, he is serving a 112-year sentence at a state juvenile facility near Portland, Oregon.
It was the bloodiest episode in the U. S. history. Students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado used the term “new normal” when discussing their state of mind in the hellish awakening the nation was shattered by on April 20, 2000. Twelve students and a teacher were killed that day and 23 other lives were wounded before their teenage assailants took their own lives. The shootings aroused concerns about school safety and gun control. Many states have adopted longer waiting periods and some states ban so called Saturday night special, cheap guns that can be easily concealed. Sheriffs department Steve Davis said, that the amount of ammunition and explosives that the gunmen had, indicated that the attacked on the school was premeditated. Regulations have been made to control the sales of guns to limit fatalities and crimes. The current federal regulation of the gun industry is limited to the Brady laws and a ban on assault weapons (Chebium 14). The Brady law measures a 72-hour waiting period before gun purchases.
In the process of the school massacre, one of the gunmen reportedly asked one of the female students if she believed in God. When she answered yes, she was shot in the face. Prayer in school is a solution to a wide range of problems, both real and exaggerated, which confronts kids and the rest of America. Although prayer is restricted in schools, the Department of Education allows and encourages faith-based groups in public schools. The goal for faith-based groups is to form a partnership as a way to promote scholastics and protect students from drug abuse. “Studies show that children involved in religious activities are less likely to use drugs,” President Clinton said during a radio address. The Department of Education has released a list of guidelines for public schools and faith-based organizations to follow as a way to stay within the boundaries of the constitution, but critics say that is a line likely will be crossed.
Due to the increasing amount of schoool shootings, school authorities are increasing security measures by adding surveillance cameras, more police officers, and including “intruder alert” evacuation to insure the safety of students and faculty. Some experts on school safety wonder whether the pricey high-tech route is the answer. (Monster Among Us) Columbine High, for instance, had an armed security guard on the premises. (Chronis) Although video cameras might help with deterrence, they’re not going to stop a determined killer. Nor can they solve problems of bullying, harassment, and alienation-which seem to have triggered many of the recent shootings. Jan Hughes and Educational psychologist at Texas A&M University states, “ overemphasis on the surveillance can make kids feel targeted. Those can increase the very alienation that lies at the root of so much youth violence. Surveillance creates an environment where students don’t feel that school is a place for them,” says!
Hughes. “ Rather than making the students feel more comfortable, it makes them feel less secure.” Hughes suggests that schools should take a more personal approach to safety by building trusting relationships between teachers and students. (“Lessons which can be learned from the continued reduction of firearms reported possessed on school campuses”)
There is a “get tough” approach to crime in America and the experts have been telling us that for years, in the case of youth violence. Nearly six school shootings have occurred this year. The chance of getting killed in school is one in 2 million, while seven out of ten people think that school shootings are possible in their communities (Eskenazi 13). Schools main response to public perceptions of misbehavior is to expel or suspend more children. “The way to rehabilitate a kid is not to take away their education,” adds Jason Zeinberg of the Justice Policy Institute.
“Gore Calls for Weapons Ban at Churches and School Events.” CNN.com 15
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