School Murder

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It is 7:30 on a normal Tuesday morning at Westside Elementary School. The buses

have begun to pull into the child unloading dock and have unloaded the students.

As the buses pull off, the students began to head toward their classroom to wait

for the day to begin. As the day progresses, the students ready themselves for

lunch break. As the teacher’s aid opens the door for the students to leave, she

sees four students dressed in long knee length jackets, strut briskly towards

the cafeteria. She pays it little attention and waits for lunch bell to sound.

Shortly after the bell sounds, the students leap out the door and cascade toward

the cafeteria. In the cafeteria there is a stage like platform that jutted out

like a shelf for about a third of the room. That is where all the disruptive, or

the kids that were on “silent lunch”, had to sit. About five minutes

until the bell for lunch to be over ringed, four students came into the

lunchroom. The students began to shout ferociously and scream for the students

to lie on the floor of the cafeteria. When the students wouldn’t cooperate, the

four boys reach under their coats to pull out .09mm pistols. The teachers in the

lunchroom try to contain the boys and settle them down, but the boys open fire

on them. As the adults fall on the floor, the cafeteria was in an uproar with

frightened, screaming children. With this the young boys open fire into the

crowd of students. Although this scenario is just a figment of this writer’s

imagination, we all have been subjected to similar scenes on recent T.V.

newscast. Chabert 2 This kind of horrific event has become a common element in

today’s news. What has changed so much in our environment that would possess a

child to destroy another child? The future’s survival depends on the existence

of today’s youth to survive. The society of today has to dominate over the

corroded minds of the trouble youth. It is time for members of society to open

their eyes and take control of the corrupted youth. The public should be aware

of the preventive measures against violence through out the school system. One

effective preventive measure towards safety in the school system is to establish

metal detectors throughout the school. Many schools of the nineteen nineties

have been equipped with metal detectors due to the latest increase in school

violence. These detectors are placed in the entrance of the school or may be

held by a school resource officer or school staff member. Metal detectors are

used to prevent students from bringing metal objects such as knives, guns and

other potential weapons into the learning atmosphere of the school. “8.3%

of high school students carry a weapon to school today, which is down from 26%

in 1996″(CDC 2). Metal detectors helps to establish a much needed sense of

security and allows students to concentrate on their schoolwork. Many students

believe that these metal detectors will ward off would be violators of the

school’s policy, that weapons of any kind or nature would not be permitted on

the school premises. School faculty and staff have reported that they feel safer

and more at ease with the students, when metal detectors are in use. Although

metal detectors are a step in the right direction, they alone are not the only

answer. In order for the full effect of the detectors to be achieved, there must

be some sort of security guard or monitor in place to implement them. Police and

full time security Chabert 3 guards have played an important and necessary role

in education for many years. The extent of policing was limited in the past as

compared to today however. “Police are showing up in suburban and small

town schools”(Robinson 2). The presence of police help to deter students

from violating school policies. A policy such as “no fighting”, may

include punishment such as a” three day suspension for first time offenders

“(Robinson 4). Police effectiveness is greatly due to the fact that people

in uniform maintain a higher degree of authority and respect than someone

dressed in regular street clothes. Police alone are but a small percentage of

the overall effectiveness and success of the school security (Greene 3A).

Another percentage of the success rate is due to the counselor-student

relationship. School counselors are a part of the school system and have been

for some time. Until a few years ago, they were hired by the administration for

class enrollment and to inform students of graduation requirements. But in the

last five years the role of the counselors has changed considerably. Counselors

of the late 1990’s have had to be more in touch with the students and their

emotional state of mind. Due to the latest trend in school violence, many

students have taken part in counseling programs offered by the schools. These

groups help students as well as staff members, become better informed about the

situations occurring in the life of the student of today. If a student should

choose to remain anonymous, there are hot lines that are available. This allows

the student to speak freely without worry or threat of being ridiculed. There

are other programs that are targeting today’s youth. One such program is

‘Violence Prevention through Conflict Resolution Management Training

Program”. This program encourages the student to discuss the problems and

feelings without anger. Younger children can also express themselves through

arts and crafts and even role-playing. These types of programs are Chabert 4

also a good way for the children’s parents to become involved and benefit from

the program. It is also believed that while spending time in such programs, the

children will not be exposed to the violent behavior that surrounds today’s

culture. To help ease students into a more society friendly environment many

counselors believe that the use of school uniforms would be greatly beneficial

to the social and working environment available to the students.

“Interpersonal disputes” was the cause of “33.3%” (AP 1) of

school violence through 1992-1994. Many school advisors and counselors believe

that a strict dress code would help eliminate much of the arguments between

students. These codes will allow students with a limited financial income to

feel as if they are equal to other students. School faculty and staff believe

that jealousy is the main source for interpersonal disputes but did not

extinguish the whole problem. In order to help eliminate these arguments, many

schools developed different levels of punishments. Punishment today has grown

more server than that of the past. The NAACP was very verbal about school

violence in a 1997 article. The comments came following incidents of violence in

large DeKalb county GA. “If it takes a police officer to make people safe,

that’s where we ought to start”, John Evans, DeKalb NAACP president. The

schools in DeKalb County at that time already had 12 full time police officers,

hand held metal detectors & surveillance cameras. They also had committees

in place considering gunpowder sniffing dogs as well as other safety measures.

Some examples of these are in the old days when a student got into trouble,

he/she would have to simply sit in the corner for a period of time, for a simple

class disruption. For the same situation in today’s time a student will buy a

one way ticket out of the school permanently” (Eberhart 10). In October

1994, congress in acted a law that each state receiving federal Chabert 5 Funds

would have in place a law mandating local education agencies to expel for at

least one year a student who brings a “weapon” to school. These more

strict and harsh punishments bring a sense of reality to the students who step

out of line. The superintendents and, when needed, the law enforcement officers

enforce many of these punishments policies. These extreme measures act as a

deterrent for the world’s troublemakers. With the new punishments at hand it is

a common belief that the public as well as the parents of today’s youth should

be aware of the actions of their children as well as the school system. Studies

show that these programs are starting to work (Shaw 1-8). Awareness may be the

answer to the prevention to the problems that plague our schools today. Because

of the recent media coverage, teachers as well as administrators are more alert

and eager to assist the students who are in need. “Across the country,

educators like Roberts, are paying attention to students threats of violence,

and kids who mean others harm, risk, suspension, expulsion, or even arrest”

(Hayes 5). With so many aware it will be more difficult for the violence to

reach the school system. The media allows the word of these crack downs on

violence to spread to the parents of the school children, which in turn allows

them to meter the development of hi/her child (DE 1A). A 1997 survey on schools

reporting incidents of various crimes showed Nationally 43% of schools reported

more of the listed crimes occurred during 1996-97 school year. 10% of the

schools reported at least one serious violent crime (murder, rape or other

sexual battery, suicide, physical attack or fight with weapon or robbery). 47%

report less serious or non-violent crimes including vandalism, theft/larceny,

fight or attack with out a weapon (Discipline 4). Chabert 6 With all of this in

mind one should realize that the world is ever changing, maybe not for the

better, maybe not for the worst, but still changing. These changes must be dealt

with, whether it is through the use of the metal detectors, or even making the

children conform by implementing uniforms. Some of those actions may appear to

be quite severe, but in reality, the crimes are just as severe. With gun control

laws and new students policies the children must learn what it is like to be

discipline and to be aware of their actions, and the repercussions that may

follow. Metal detectors are making it easier for kids to go to school. It will

be like boarding an airplane when going to school. This may help prevent the

horrible actions that are going on in America’s schools. The students will walk

through the detectors at the entrances of the schools. If the detector detects a

metal object a sound will be heard, and the police officer at the entrance will

be allowed to search the student (Greene 3A). Students will also be required to

wear photo ID’s when on school grounds. The students will also be required to

have see-through school bags or mesh. Some schools in America are also going as

far as have breath test at the entrance to see if the student was drinking

before school (Greene 3A). Parents are now getting involved heavily. Parents are

now meeting with school boards to make sure of their kids safety. They are

getting together to make plans on how to make schools safe for the kids. Many

parents want police on school grounds at all times making sure the kids don’t

get out of hand (Galbraith 1A). Many schools are now beginning to take action in

faculty-student programs. These programs will allow students to go to the adult

for help. The student can explain any problems to the teacher so that their

anger doesn’t get out of hand and hurt another Chabert 7 student. The student

can discuss their feelings to the teacher and also call another student in to

the conference to settle the dispute calmly instead of violently. If the first

meeting doesn’t settle the dispute, the student can always come back for

additional meetings till the problem is solved (Moore 1C). The violence in the

high schools is getting worse. The punishments throughout the schools are also

getting worse. The principals are not putting up with any kind of unacceptable

behavior. Any student caught at school with any kind of harmful weapon will be

arrested and suspended for a long time. If a student decides to pick a fight he

or she is also going to be suspended for a while. A couple of years ago a fight

would be broken up, and the student would be sent to the principal’s office. The

punishment would have been a lot less than what it is to day. (Williams G1).

Statistics show that young children are committing the killings in schools now.

Ten to fifteen year old kids are turning to violence on each other. All over the

United States people hear about third to seventh graders using guns and knives

against one another. Police have arrested many of these kids for killing another

student and wounding many others (Williams G1). Many principals were asked to

note all the crimes that have happened in their schools. U.S. public school

boards wanted to see where the most crimes were being committed. The school

boards wanted to see where the dangerous schools were, and the safe schools

were. They also took notes on the racial status on crimes. It turned out that

African-Americans were more likely to kill or commit a serious crime than

whites. This happens because most African-Americans live in city schools where

it is more dangerous to attend. These crimes occur because of either the social

status of the students or the language being said between them. The students are

at war to prove that their group is Chabert 8 better than the other group (Shaw

1-8). Where does these horrible actions stop? It is up to the American people to

take charge of the schools and make it safe for our children.

Bibliography

1) Fields, Monique. “Disruptive pupils get booted out.” Montgomery

Advertiser 4 Mar. 1995: 1A. 2) Green, Robert. “Security heightened at more

schools.” Dothan Eagle 31 Aug. 1998: 3A. 3) Hayes, Kristen. “Shooting

raises level of alert in school.” Dothan Eagle 1 May 1998: 1. 4) Moore, A.

A. “Class target a root of crime.” Montgomery Advertiser 26 Sept. 1997

5) Robinson, Jennifer. “Teachers say not enough being done.” Dothan

Eagle 25 Feb. 1996: 6A. 6) Shelton, Stacy. “Expelling school

violence.” Atlanta Journal Constitution 19 Oct. 1997: H1. 7)

“School-association violent death.” Birmingham News 11 June 1996. 8)

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Initiative http://www.nyu.edu/education/metrocenter/initiative/violence/SSRP.htm

9) Galbraith, Kristy. “Parents want answers to school safety

questions.” Dothan Eagle 17 Feb. 1997: 1A. 10) Williams, Mike.

“Violence goes to high school.” Atlanta Constitution 7 Dec. 1997: G1.

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