Lesson Plan #22 - Opinion Article By SNN Reporter
Note: We recommend that you print this article
and distribute it to your students.
School violence: What can we
By Sarah King, SNN Opinion
Editor, Bay Roberts, Newfoundland
The tragedies of Littleton, Colorado;
Taber, Alberta and Jonesboro, Arkansas, perked up the ears of
teens all over the world.
Students lost friends, teachers and other
members of their student body because some teens felt that
life had taken them for a ride and it was time to get off. The
so called "Trenchcoat Mafia" in Littleton felt the
need to get revenge on the popular students in their school who
had shunned them because of their beliefs.
What can we do to make sure we are safe?
A poll taken after the Columbine High tragedy found that 47 percent
of students in grades 7 to 12 said that they had easy access
to a gun, 36 percent of teens aged 13-17 felt that there were
students in their schools that they felt were capable of such
violence. Forty percent of the students polled said that poor
peer relations were the major cause of school violence. Close
to one quarter said that personal problems were the second cause
of violence and only a small percentage felt that parents, teachers,
movies, television, or warning signs that were ignored were the
cause of violence.
When students all over North America were
asked what they thought would make them feel safer in school,
nearly 25 percent said that a combination of increased security,
metal detectors, peer counselling, communication and tolerance
Peer counselling, and communication are
just methods for students that have already been harbouring hostile
feelings toward fellow school members to release them. How can
we prevent these feelings from developing in the first place?
What about friendliness? Where has this
gone in today's schools? To many students, getting up in the
morning and going to school is like volunteering to walk into
a burning building. So many teens are ridiculed because of things
they have no control over like their clothes, their religious
affiliations, their attire or where the fit in the pyramid of
social life. How can we make sure that the students that don't
have the money for the clothes and the CD's feel that they are
members of the school community?
We can help them by being friendly and
not taking into consideration whether they are above or beneath
us in social status. Who knows? Perhaps if someone had come up
to Dylan Klebold or Erik Harris and tried to make friends, the
whole massacre would never have happened!
At our school, we just finished a round
of student council elections. More often than not, these kinds
of elections turn into a popularity contest, with students electing
others because they are the BMOC instead of because they are
the right person to do the job well! This puts other students
in a negative frame of mind because they want to make the school
a better place and they think that being popular is all that
matters. How could one help feeling left out and hurt after something
I personally feel that there are not many
students in our school that would resort to mass killings but
that may be because I live in rural Newfoundland. For many students
elsewhere in the country, guns, knives, gangs and the like are
common in schools. Some students feel threatened and insecure
in their own schools. In my school, teachers and administrators
are always pushing that we are all "one big happy family".
Perhaps if all schools were trying to project this image that
we are all equal, maybe together we could stamp out and eliminate
the problem of school violence.
Together, we can make a difference.