he issue of school violence continues to be one that resurfaces in many different forms. I can’t believe that it’s been more than four years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy took place. Being so close to this tragedy, both figuratively and literally, in that I grew up only 30 minutes north of this school and working as a public school teacher myself, I just can’t fathom that something like this could have possibly happened. The sad reality, though, is that these kinds of tragedies have taken place and violence in our schools is still a major concern.
There are some deep-seated issues affecting students at our schools and causing them to react in violent behaviors toward others. The locker room stabbing that took place back in November 2016 by a 16-year old high school student in Utah left five injured. This student was a straight A student and didn’t have any disciplinary record. There wasn’t even a history of bullying with the five victims.
Earlier in January this year, a 17-year old high school student shot his 16-year old classmate. He went into a bathroom and assembled his gun and came out shooting not only his classmate, but also firing at a teacher and narrowly missing.
We’ve been down this road before trying to explain the motives of young people who display violence toward their classmates and/or teachers in this manner. We’ve asked the questions:
- “How can someone do such a thing?”
- “What triggers someone to act aggressively?”
- “Do the parents see these behaviors with their children at home?”
- “Are there specific warning signs to be on the lookout for and if so, what are they?”
Issues such as violence in schools are garnering the attention of educators across the U.S. It is bad enough that kids today are exposed to violence all through the media – in movies they watch, lyrics to music they listen to and sing aloud, and things they see on the Internet. We have seen verbal lashing amidst the politicians in the recent presidential debate and still see it months later between Republicans and Democrats.
Furthermore, we see a barrage of new video games with highly graphic and violent visuals that have been, and are soon to be, released to the public. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics has demonstrated that children who repeatedly play violent video games changes the way they think. I realize that all kids who play violent video games don’t end up as killers or violent human beings. However, the long-term exposure to violent video games can lead to changes in the way they learn to think. Young people can become more aggressive, which can lead them to saying or employing violence at school, and become desensitized to violence as a whole.
What appears to be inexplicable as to why a child would go to such lengths and extremes as to stab or shoot another student or teacher is rooted in their overall social and emotional well-being.
To Your Child!