TRAGEDY AT COLUMBINE
1999, 20th April, two students entered Columbine High School and opened fired with small automatic firearms and killed twelve fellow students and one instructor. Before committing suicide, the two students injured an additional twenty students, as well as three who were trying to escape. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris caused one of the most tragic school violence incidents in American history.
Although terrible, the Columbine shootings is nothing new to America, considering the incidents also at Bath School in 1927 in which 45 people were killed and injured around 58 people, with a majority of the victims being pre-school and grade school children. However, other incidents like the ones that occurred in the University of Texas in 1996 and Virginia Tech in 2007 may show an increasing trend in school related violence.
The question now is why are our students getting more and more violent? There must be some sort of reason as to the increase not only in violent behavior but also in intensity as shown in the above two incidents. One proposed reason is that children and youth nowadays crave fame, not only in their surroundings but particularly in their schools. This feeling of wanting to be known and appreciated alongside exposure to violent elements in their environments give or rather collaborate a wrong choice in a way to express and show their emotions. Guns and firearms are easily accessible alongside media that is violent in nature, in films, movies and video games. The feeling of belonging via membership in violent groups like gangs also increases or persuades the use and exhibition of violence. And this is more likely to occur with males, as they lack the type of support networks that females have in the form of close friends and the like. Males also have a harder time in expressing their emotions in a machismo centered culture in which it is okay for girls to cry but boys have to be tough and physical.
What then should be done? Part of the responsibility of how to curb this violence rests with the schools, who, acting as in loco parentis, are also responsible in bringing up and nurturing the children and youth sent to them for education and development. Schools along with parents should practice mediation procedures and compassionate approaches to curb the violence that may be in-grained in each child.
This can be done through the use of conflict resolution and anger management workshops to assist in reducing violent behavior in children to show them that there are alternative ways to solve problems apart from violence. However, family support is also important in a child’s life, and a violent child must and needs the immediate understanding and support of the family. This support can mean the difference between a violent and a non-violent individual in the future.
In this manner, schools may again hopefully be considered as safe places for children without the fear of violence, or the threat of violence which troubles the life of each child, parent and teacher.