Schools are largely considered to be asylums for self-discovery

Schools are largely considered to be asylums for self-discovery, and enlightenment. They are a vital aspect of our civilization’s development, for without them all establishments of order would simply cease to function. With the establishment of law, and order also comes chaos and corruption. They are synchronised. Too many rules, and you effectively run a dictatorship. Too little,and you endure anarchy. Today, societies are presented with challenges daily by these denizens of chaos: theft, and murder being among the most prominent. Like a conflagration, these heinous acts have spread innumerable throughout the world. Amongst these malicious deeds include violence against children. A deed that has begun to occur in our supposed places of retreat: schools.
The statistics are sobering, so much so that they can no longer be ignored: “In the Fourteen months since December 2012-February 2014 the mass shootings in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 44 school shootings, including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings– an average of more than three a month”(Gun Violence 50). “In the first six weeks of 2014 alone, there were 13 school shootings, including one eight-day period in which there were four shootings in K-12 schools”(Gun Violence 50). This epidemic afflicting the American population can not simply be attributed due to the ease of access to firearms. In fact, compared to the nations with the top ten most school shootings, the US still tops them, even when combined in a ratio of 227:172(Becker 2). One of these nations, Switzerland, with only
six school shootings from 2009-2013, is one of the most gun-heavy countries in the world
and yet still they do not come close to the number of school shootings the US has had.
“One of the reasons the crime rate in Switzerland is low despite the prevalence of
weapons — and also why the Swiss mentality can’t be transposed to the current
American reality — is the culture of responsibility and safety that is anchored in society
and passed from generation to generation. Kids as young as 12 belong to gun groups in
their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting”(Bachmann 1).
The carrying of arms does play a part in the number of school shootings in the US as there are little to no restrictions. The saying “where there is a will, there is a way” accurately summarizes what would happen should the use of guns be restricted. Sure, obtaining guns legally would not be possible, but illegally? The epidemic of school shootings is in no way solely rooted in the use of firearms but is also contributed by a failure to protect its students on behalf of the education system. The system, however, is not the only group responsible for this burden. It is paramount that we as a society work to solve this plague unequivocally. Parents must teach their kids to be responsible. We must delve deeper into the issue of mental disability as a society. Schools must be able to identify signs of disorder, violence, and unrest and be capable of acting upon them.
There are many factors that can lead one to resort to violence, some more trivial while others more significant. Many schools have in some ways failed to address the issue of school shooters by not vehemently tackling the root of its arrival: bullying and harassment. “Almost three-quarters of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to the incident. In several cases, individual attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was long-standing and severe. In some of these cases, the experience of being bullied seemed to have a significant impact on the attacker and appeared to have been a factor in his decision to mount an attack at the school(Band 21).” Should the issue of bullying not become paramount in our attempts to halt shootings, the issue of school shootings will remain problematic indefinitely.
The issue of school shootings transcends mental illness, gun ownership, and even drug use. The correlation is null, and in fact, many shooters are able “to socialize with mainstream students or were considered mainstream students themselves”(Band 21). The stereotypical viewpoint of school shooters being mentally deficient and incapable of making logical decisions also proves invalid: “The attackers generally received As and Bs in their courses; some were even taking Advanced Placement courses at the time of the incident or had been on the honor roll repeatedly. Fewer of the attackers were receiving Bs and Cs, or Cs and Ds. Very few of the attackers were known to be failing in school. Nearly two-thirds of the attackers had never been in trouble or rarely were in trouble at school(Band 21).” For schools, this endeavor of pinpointing who could be a potential threat proves difficult, as though this study the correlation of who would be a shooter is vague. There exist several options for schools and society as a whole to help correct this problem. Schools can take more physical security measures to protect their students, increase bonds between staff and students, and educate students on how to deal with such a devastating scenario. Parents can be more involved in the operations of schools, educate students on morals and ethics, and address symptoms of depression in their children. The collaboration between school staff, parents, and students must be created. A trinity must be formed.
To conjure a solution to this national issue will prove ambitious, but nonetheless plausible. It will require a communication and attentiveness never before seen between parents, educational staff, and students. Of course, no solution is without its flaws, and it would be unrealistic to speculate these options to be perfect. That is far from the case. The focus is not to eradicate the issue, as that would be virtually impossible, but to restrict, and lower the probability of school shootings from happening in the future. These solutions can be separated into two distinct sections: Physical and Social.
Safety measures that schools employ to provide aid to students can include programs to teach students strategies to combat situations such as these, metal detectors, and upgraded security, such as security guards armed with tasers. Of course, in order to accomplish this, schools would require an increased budget to allow for such changes. This would require the aid of government legislation. The educational system must also take into account the impact these changes would have on the overall view students will have in the school. In a study conducted by Hankin, it was found that the introduction of metal detectors contributed to negative perceptions of safety within the schools(Cuellar 3). The school system seemed not competent enough to protect its student body. It is equally imperative, if not more, that schools take into consideration how certain incorporated safety measures will restrict their students. For example: Iron gates, though capable of restricting incidents to specific locations, can also prevent students, or personnel from escaping said situation(Cuellar 4). Overall, however, “the promising effects of interactionist strategies across education levels suggest that their use might improve students’ feelings of connectedness and increase school safety by promoting student-student and student-staff communication”(Cuellar 5).
Schools in their endeavor to protect their students-their customers- must acknowledge what qualifies as the educational system’s responsibility. Is it the school’s responsibility to look over social interactions outside of schools, or is it the responsibility of parents? Simply put, it is both. The education system should be held accountable because the situation would simply not arise if the victim had not been in the school system. Harassment, by extension, would end up influencing the student emotionally, impeding his/her ability to learn in school. As well as physically, with the victim having to endure any harm come during the school day. Parents must also be able to acknowledge when their child is enduring physical and mental abuse at school, and be able to act upon it, whether it be communicating directly with the respective school, or taking direct action. It is imperative that schools recognize when these relatively common spectacles occur. As well as are capable of providing support quickly and effectively. Should this issue not be corrected, and the problem is allowed to persist, it could prove to lead to future complications. One of the more significant being that of a school shooting.
The misinterpretation that shooters are mentally deficient is one of the major components as to why these mass murders are so capable of being accomplished. In our endeavor to find a cure for this epidemic, this guise, this scapegoat has become precisely the reason for why this problem has not been resolved. The affirmation that a majority of school shooters are, in fact, not mentally ill is exactly what makes them so dangerous(Gun Violence 56). “With an average of 300 shootings every day, it should be no surprise that a few of them occur in or near schools. According to FBI crime statistics, most homicides occur in homes, not schools”(Gun Violence 56). The appropriation of words such as psychopath and sociopath does not adequately define individuals who commit these violent crimes. Since they manifest themselves through abuse-whether it is within the confinement of schools, or outside it- and take action as a result of it, these individuals are far more dangerous. Their intent is not fueled by mental illness, but rather, vengeance. They are intimately self-aware of their decisions, and their consequences, but are apathetic to them. They act with intent, and purpose, that is what makes them so dangerous.
The threat imposed upon American society, though incorrigible, is far from impossible to reform. It is paramount that we as a society are able to recognize what qualifications construct the school shooter. It is equally imperative for society to distinguish between the factual representation of such persons, as well as the stereotypical ones. The identification of a potential threat is vital in protecting the student body. To accomplish such a feat, communication on all levels: the staff, students and parents is required. If schools were to not take preventative measures, and actions against such atrocities, then this crisis afflicting the American nation could simply not be halted.


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