Saturday, February 16, 2008

Illinois School Shooting

I'm sure we've all heard about the Illinois University shooting from last Thursday. I didn't really hear anything about it until I caught a few words about it from CNN.

School shootings are shocking, but they're becoming so common now that, at once you feel shock because of the horror, but I am hardly surprised anymore. It's just sick how common this horrid act is becoming, if you ask me.

I've been reading CNN articles this week, and they just put out this new video of student witnesses talking about the incident here. They keep asking the students if they feel safe on campus, and obviously they're going to say no. They say they look to the school to prevent this and make them feel safe. But what can a school, a large university, do to prevent bad things like this from occurring?

How can anyone prevent this? I mean, how can we stop people who are mentally unstable for gaining possession of guns? How can we stop them from entering a building? From going to a university? It's so difficult. Obama and Clinto issued statements backing support of those against gun violence, obviously, and in favor of anti-terrorism and gun violence. But, they voice that they do not want to hinder the 2nd amendement.

Okay, true, but the school shooter in Illinois had no history of ill treatment. All who knew him were shocked that he did this. His gun license was approved under the State Police--I mean, how could we have seen this coming? How would one ever be able to weed out those who might do something like this versus someone who wouldn't? It seems virtually impossible. How can you make a judgment call like that without hindering our amendments?

I am in no way supporting the gunman or school shooting violence. Working in a school myself, I am sympathetic to the students and teachers who fall victim to such traumas like this. I guess I'm looking at the prevention side, and it seems difficult to do things about it. Even when you look at the school shooting at Virginia Tech, it seemed that man needed attention and fame. And boy, did he get it. That sends such a negative message out to anyone who has ideas trickling in about this very issue.

I could perhaps see high schools doing more about it, having metal detectors and such. But big universities are more free, they have many buildings, so how can they have metal detectors at each one? When you admit someone, you assume that they are good candidates to enter the school. You don't assume that one of them will slap a bad name on your school and murder other students. You never really look to something so tragic to happen so close to home, because like the teenage mentality, something that awful could never happen to me, to my school, so close to home.

I am just saddened that this continues. And let me tell you, this is not going to stop. Once Columbine happened, it set a precedent for more to occur. I think it's disgusting that this is becoming so prevalent in this country, but now the ball is rolling, and so many have kept on happening that we can't muster enough energy to step in front of this giant ball and cut it off. I guess I just don't know what any school could do from here. Even schools watching, they feel sympathetic, but do they do anything to prep themselves for this happening at their school? I'm not sure. Or is this really not that common to worry about? Is it too much for all schools to do something just because of a couple until it happens to them? I don't know. There are so many questions I don't know the answers to.

Anyway, for fellow teachers out there: does this scare you at all? Do you ever think of violence occuring when you are in the classroom? Be it bombs, guns, etc. What can we do, and what would you do?

Tough questions, but it's better to look for answers than just feel helpless as I do.


Megan said...

I see issues like this in this way:

There's a sort of heirarchy of prevention that can take place... and gun control is kind of like the band-aid solution.

Obviously, certain criminals are not allowed to register or buy a firearm, but it's simply unconstitutional to limit guns based on mood swings, personalities, or likelihood of misuse of the firearm... So obviously, gun control's not gonna solve the issue of school shootings...

Schools need to look so much deeper into the issue than just making sure that kids don't bring guns to school. The schools try... with bullying awareness programs and teambuilding and whatever else, but it's obviously not working.

Many of the school shootings that we have heard about have resulted from bullying: the shooter feels downtrodden, helpless, and hurt, and the only effective form of retaliation, in their eyes, is a drastic measure.

Much of the responsibility rests in the hands of parents, also. A child's adolescence is part home, and part school. So, even if an educational Utoptia is someday created, that's only half the battle for kids- their home life needs to be solidified as well.

THIS is exactly why programs like the RESPECT day at your school are soooo vitally important. I feel sick right now thinking about this... all of the senseless things that have been happening lately... deaths from drag racing accidents, school shootings... It's all so stupid and unnecessary.

I think it comes from recklessness with our lives. We are somehow losing an appreciation for the intricateness and valuableness of ourselves... not to be confused with self-absorption or conceitedness. Look at the young girls who dress like tramps begging for attention... kids make reckless decisions... it all comes with a lack of respect for their own bodies, their own minds.

So the question is... how can we, as mere high school teachers, change this behavior? What can we do to provoke students to find value in their lives?

Here's a hint... it's definately NOT by shoving past participles and Shakespeare down their throats.

Jami said...

A hilarious way to end your thought-provoking blog post. And you're right--that kind of teaching won't help anyone's self deevlopment or teach respect for oneself and their peers.

The problems do develop at home, as well as created within the school itself because of rejection from popular culture, isolation, etc. As with Columbine, there were many warning signs at home before the boys attacked the high school. They would hang out after school and write hate letters on the internet, shoot target practice in the woods, create hate videos, etc. Where were the parents? Or is it not fair to blame parents of independent teenagers?

Anyway, you prove very good points, but, as you know too, it's hard to increase parental involvement in students' lives. We can do what we can on our part in the school, but it's difficult to rely on help at home. It simply just can't be done... but how can we even jumpstart it to happen? I have no idea.

Funny how RESPECT Day ties into it, huh? My mom actually told me that she doesn't know if they're discontinuing the program (but I'm pretty sure I heard them announce it), but anyway, Shen has been faced with many bomb threats and shootings. When Columbine happened, a list of the top 100 schools that could have a similar attack happen. Shen was in the top 100. Thus, I think RESPECT Day is huge to help counteract this. Respect your peers. Respect their talents. Promote love within divided peers (because of the huge social differences between cliques).

Maybe small starts like this will do something, even if it's small. Even small things will contribute in the long run, or perhaps build up to better ideas that will help.