Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Sad State of Affairs

In the hero's journey, the teen years signify the initiation. It is a maturing process. Schools are the location for most of this process. Because of schools in the news, I feel it is necessary to reflect.

In light of recent tragic school shootings, this post requires reflection and careful consideration. Please read the following excerpt from an article put out today in response to the Pennsylvania school shooting and respond:

A study of subsequent shootings in the months after Columbine found that "all involved white kids in small towns," Fox said. "The copycat effect would be most pronounced when there is a similarity between the perpetrator and the ones they are idolizing and modeling.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of schoolchildren identified with the victims," Fox said. "But a small percentage identified with the shooters because, not only did they get even with bullies and nasty teachers, but they got famous for it."
Fox, the author of "The Will to Kill: Explaining Senseless Murder" and "Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder," said schools carry a symbolic power as targets.

"If you want to find young kids and get even with society — a school is an ideal place for doing that," he said. "They represent a place where people may have felt unhappy, their self-esteem was threatened, where they were bullied, and where they decide to get revenge."

The majority of attackers in school settings are motivated by revenge, according to the 2002 "Safe School Initiative," the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, which examined targeted school violence between 1974 and 2000.

Prothrow-Smith said, "You've got a socially toxic environment that glamorizes guns and violence."

Video games, television, films and news constantly project images of people "justifying their wrongs or emotions with violence," she said. "You mix guns in a culture where people are not good at handling difficult emotions like anger, fear, guilt and grief ... and you have a toxic social environment."

Advocates of wider gun controls argue that the availability of guns has made it easier for people to commit murder in schools.

"It is extremely easy, whether you are a juvenile or a convicted felon or a domestic abuser, to purchase a firearm legally or illegally," Peter Hamm of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence told Reuters.


Do you think schools are this toxic social environment? What contributes to this problem? How do you feel about the safety of our school? There are many issues at hand here including firearms, revenge, teen suicide, the media, video games, etc. Respond to this article and the state of affairs regarding one of these topics.


MatthewH7 said...

I think that schools can be a toxic social environment, not because of the way they are run, but because when you have a large group of poeple confined to one area day after day, year after year, and you will get some conflict. You put guns into the mix, and you get a really tragic incident. The main thing that contributes to this problem is that most kids will not stand up to a bully or any person who is giving the crap. If the kids would stand up to them, maybe fight them (I mean with fists, not weapons), then the bully would probably leave them alone. The problem is that since there is virtually no punishment for the bullies (the parents and teachers can't be there all the time), they continue to do it without fear. If they think that they will get into fights with all of the kids, will be embarressed in front of the people they are trying to impress, then they would not consider making fun of somebody to be worthwhile.
Maybe the way these kids are responding to the harrassment, i.e. the shootings, is a way of fighting back. They may take it too far, but in the long run it might work. I am not condoning killing people, but if a bully thinks that there is the tiniest chance that the kid they are harrassing will come at them for revenge, will kill them for what they say, do you think that they would continue making fun of them. Fear might be the way to make people stop and think "is it worth it". If the fear of revenge stops people from becoming bullies, then maybe we have been looking at this issue the wrong way.

Leigh W. 1 said...

You can't put to much emphasis on the school itself, moreover the vulnerabilty that teenagers have. We are at a vital point in our lives in which every decision can lead to great success or much demise. Our school is not one to be thought as a toxic enviroment in the same sense that inner-city schools are thought as. We are more of a school in which social pressure and expectations rule our everyday lives. Yes, there are those who choose to "stand out" and try to be "unconformist", but face it, we belong to one of the best public education systems in Alabama if not the nation. However, these types of expectations and pressures put on very unstable kids poses a different type of danger than if we were all divided into lets say, gangs.

billyh7 said...

First of all I want to say guns do not kill people, crazy people kill people. We should not try to make it harder for people to get guns, we should try harder to teach kids the difference between right and wrong. I don't know if anybody remembers this, but our second amendment right is the right to bear arms. This is right behind the freedom of speech and religion, which means our founding fathers thought pretty highly of our right to bear arms. I know that guns are available to almost everyone in Mountain Brook, but that doesnt mean that we go around shooting eachother. The availability of guns is not the problem here, getting help to psychos is the problem.

chuckw7 said...

I think that schools are often the initiation stage of many people's lives. I think that the article makes a great point by saying that schools are good targets because everyone can relate to a school. Everybody at one time or another has a bad memory at school which left a mark on them. Some have more than one mark and these people are the ones who go around shooting innocent children and they try to justify their actions by saying that they had a hard childhood. Maybe they did but taking someone's life just to say that is absurd and people like this should be put to death. I feel that our school is relatively safe but I know there are plenty of schools out there that are not so safe. I agree that video games are full of violence but they violence has not changed me as a person. I play them because there fun, not because I get to go around killing aliens as in "Halo".

GuerryF1 said...

I think that some school do have negatinve affects on kids. However, our school is small enough that I think there is little problem with this. During our fist year at the high school lots of bad things happened but I do not think any of thoses things happened because of what happened at school. We are all respectfull of eachother, but at a shcool that is not as small and respectfull as Mtn. Brook I could see some problems.

Talc0s S. said...

Schools are not the problem, nor are guns - students often have equal access to both. The issue in question is the way in which we treat one another in any given imposed social environment. More than the pressure of competition is the baleful influence of intolerance and disrespect for each others' differences and needs.

When we feel the need to lash out at someone else in response to a negative happening in our own lives (such as is the case with many bullies), or if we attack someone else as a result of prejudice veiled in demeaning jokes, a degenerating social environment is created which taxes those that haven't the capacity or the will to tolerate it.

This doesn't always lead to violence, but it most certainly fosters animosity, and it can affect student's lives in far more subtle ways.

This school in particular is very susceptible to such conflicts, even if it is an environment largely absent of class or racial differences. A fairly obvious one is the issue of sexual orientation.

I have to disagree with the posts before me. The truth is that we have very little respect or understanding for one another, and to think that the problem stops just because we don't have any overt signs of conflict doesn't mean that we don't have problems.

Simplifying the issue into a matter of right and wrong is an outright fallacy. We have to understand the nature of these violent crimes, and of what causes them, rather than blanketing the issue with the misguided idea that violent people are somehow trying to excuse themselves from crime or are that different from ourselves. True, they are fundamentally different from us in some respects, in that they somehow lack the ability to tolerate the cruelty of others, but to think that we don't have potentially damageable students is precisely what puts us in danger.

StuartS5th said...

I do not believe that schools are this toxic of an enviornment. Although in many cases, people's self esteem can be damaged at school, it rarely drives someone to kill. The people that actually have the drive to murder students are usually mentally unstable. These people take things the wrong way and seek revenge. Violent movies, TV shows, and games definitely put wrong images into their heads. For the most part, school enviornments are not toxic, but there are always a few exceptions. Personally, I feel that our school is very safe. I have never felt threatened by anyone, and I don't believe that anybody would have the drive for revenge in our school.

RyanL5 said...

I beleive that schools can be a toxic environment due to there is no possible way to protect thousands of students against one or two dangerous ones. Specially like our school, anyone could easily get a gun in here due to no metal detectors. But the nice thang is that most of the kids around here would not do that sort of thing. I feel that we need to practice a tactic incase a situation did occur such as a code word on the loud speeker that allows everyone to lock doors and hide quickly. Guns i dont think are the issue. I think it is how the kids are treated in the school environment. The kids here are treated like adults and we rarely have problems. I think other school sytems need to take that into account.

JoannaS5 said...

I definitely feel that school's are the ideal toxic environments for such things. Adolescent years are the most vulnerable, I believe, of all other phases of life. Habits, beliefs, feelings, and many other potentially life altering changes are established during those years. With such high risk of intolerance to things and people they don't understand and the imbalance of hormones, only tragedy and trouble can be the results of this.

Ignorance would have to be the key to this whole issue in my opinion. Not knowing, not wanting to know, and never accepting anything outside of one's self can be the downfall of more than just one life. It is as if there is only one pair of shoes, in one size, and one color. Anything outside of that one pair of shoes is wrong or unacceptable. All of these things incorporated with troublesome, hormonal teens add up to be a literal form of a metaphorical ticking time-bomb. What we don't know, can hurt us along with others around us if we're not careful.

I may react to someone tripping me in the hallway with a flip of the finger if I'm angry enough, or simply ignoring it if i'm smart enough. Someone with the opposite extreme of characteristics than me may pull out an AK47 and blow their faces off. People have bad days. People have bad weeks, months...sometimes years. People have bad lives. School becomes part of this life. If school goes bad, life goes bad. These teens do what they know to do reguardless of the consequences, because what else can happen...life can get worse? Life was bad to begin with.

Lack of hope and respect for life around them, drives kids to do unrational things. Those unrational things may drive another kid to blow up the school. The consequences of what we do will never be fully shown to us until they're right beneath our noses. New kids every year in the same bad environments, with the same bad problems, and no one does a thing because it's just that phase of life.

In recent events, though i was not present for them, i would have to say i still feel safe at my school. Yes, there were potentially dangerous weapons at our school. Yes, there was a potentially dangerous person at our school. The point is they found him and prevented anything from happening. These events don't happen based on the safety of a school or how many gangs are affiliated with violence and school. It is pure chance. Certainly though, risks are higher in certain areas, but the chances are still the same.

In short, which might have been easier than an essay, school can make or break a teen. It's the outside and inside influence which clash that bring the results of school shootings into our neighborhoods. Yes, any school is just such a toxic environment.

chrisdavies said...

hey i am in year 12 and we have to do a blog site on english in a whole for year 11 and 12, you know what i mean ai.