Violence in our Schools
Children today are growing up in an increasingly violent atmosphere, both in society in general and in their schools. While there is no easy answer as to how to end this violence once and for all, we can look at some of the causes and take steps to contain that which we can. The main contributing factor in all recent school shootings has been the shooters’ feelings that they were bullied by and alienated from the rest of the children and were made to feel that they were not as good as their peers. Being targeted by the other children and having nowhere to turn to for help can cause a build up of more anger until, finally the alienated child is unable to take anymore. They struck out at their peers in what seems to them to be the most effective way, by eliminating them. Although several factors enter into school violence, the most obvious way of preventing violence is to eliminate these feelings of being outcast by one’s peers. If we want to put an end to school violence, we need to put an end to bullying behavior (Shore, 1996).
Many instances of bullying behavior can be linked back to the climate in which a child was raised. Those who are raised in poverty or who have no good role models will frequently suffer due to the lack of examples of adults in productive roles. If the “coolest” guy in the neighborhood is a gang member, then his or her bullying behavior will be emulated by the children in the neighborhood, continuing the cycle of abuse. This pattern usually leads to other negative traits such as becoming easily provoked and developing an inability to solve problems effectively. When these traits are continued in the school system, they are compounded by peer-pressure and the lack of faculty support. The bullies soon learn that they are free to abuse whomever they wish, and although faculty and staff help when they can, there are simply not enough resources necessary to catch and prevent bullies from targeting their peers (Bennett-Johnson, June 2004 p199).
One way that children are targeted is based on how he or she is treated by teachers and faculty. According to Andrea J. Cook in Columbine Author Speaks Out, those who are “just right” or are smart, attractive, and good at sports, are treated well by teachers, because they appear to be everything a teacher wants in a student. Those who are not “just right” are treated poorly from the teachers because of their unattractiveness, their awkwardness, and their inability to fit in. These children are often from less fortunate homes and do not have good role models from which to learn coping and socializing skills. When these students are targeted, they have nowhere to turn and are at a loss as to how to end the harassment. If they do go to parents or faculty, they are often told that they need to try harder to fit in. The awkwardness of the victims is frequently focused on instead of the actions of the bullies, leading to increased instances of poor self-esteem and...