Advertisement

Stopping school violence requires all citizens' help

March 08, 2001

Stopping school violence requires all citizens' help



A Waynesboro, Pa. middle-school student is facing criminal charges for what police said were terroristic threats in connection with a "hit list" of fellow students. The young girl's arrest follows a shooting spree allegedly carried out in California by a 15-year-old who formerly lived in Knoxville, Md., and a number of what appear to be "copycat" incidents. What, if anything, can be done to prevent such violence from spreading?

The first step is to take all threats seriously and expel every student who brings a weapon to school. Such policies have to be tempered with some common sense; the reports we've heard about items like nail clippers being considered weapons make no more sense than treating every playground scuffle as a prelude to Armageddon.

But students have to know that threatening someone's life is not the same as promising to punch a classmate in the nose. Serious threats should lead to criminal prosecution and removal from school, perhaps to some alternative setting where education can be combined with therapy.

Advertisement

The second step: Make sure all weapons are locked up in a secure container like a gun safe. Many people have told us stories about how they grew up around firearms stored where anyone could reach them and how, despite that easy access, none of the kids dared touch dad's hunting rifle.

To that we say, there was also a time when people didn't lock the doors to their houses. That time is gone and so is the day when guns can be stored on a rack that isn't locked.

School officials and parents also have to make the point that it isn't right to pick on other students because they're small, wear odd clothing or don't seem to fit in. Again, times have changed, and the picked-on child who would have suffered in silence 30 years ago may react in a different and more violent way today.

Students also need to be told what happens to those who succumb to the violent impulses. A tour of a local prison and a look at the restrictive, boring routine inmates face there may be the best argument against violence society has.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|