Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #7 -
Sample Opinion Article by SNN Reporter

Note: We recommend that you print this article and distribute it to your students.

School violence and what it's doing to society
By J. Whelan, I. J. Samson School, St. John's, Newfoundland

The recent school shooting in Littleton, Colorado has caused a huge outrage all over North America. It is very hard to understand why and how such a horrific event could possibly occur in our well-educated and properly-informed society.

What is needed in society today is not only reinforced gun laws or tightened security in schools. These things are obviously a necessity. However, I believe that we should be focussing more of our efforts on the individual teens and their problems. By doing this, we may be able to prevent or at least minimize incidents such as these. That said, no matter what steps are taken, it would be unrealistic to think that it is possible to completely prevent such a disaster from repeating itself. Prevention is not a cure but it can help police officials in protecting the school and the potential victims for the future. However, it offers no solution or comfort to those victims and families who are so devastated because of acts that have already been committed. I truly believe that lack of attention is the main cause in these horrible tragedies. If we as a society put more emphasis on helping teens and possibly understanding them, rather than dismissing them as ‘hard cases', we may be able to work towards a safer learning environment.

Being a teenager today is sometimes considered rough and awkward. I may not be an expert in decoding the teenage brain, however I am a teenager and I can definitely see something wrong with the rise in statistics of school violence each year. I'm lucky to live in a place where school violence isn't really a concern, but there are people everywhere who have to deal with this type of thing every day of their lives.

Are we safe in school? This should not be a question that needs to be asked. If I had to go to school everyday worrying that I might be the victim of school violence, I don't know how I'd feel dealing with the other things in my life. Socially, teens have a lot of pressure put on them to fit in and to ‘be cool'. This can cause so much of a stress in our lives, that it is hard to deal with the other things in our lives such as family and school. School should feel safe to everyone, not only because it's where we have to go to learn, but because it should offer a sort of comfort and support to those who do not feel secure socially or emotionally. There are kids today that go to school in complete fear of being attacked, or worse, even killed.

School is frequently referred to as 'a safe learning environment'. Can we really say that, if it isn't true? A 'safe learning environment' would include worry-free students and a violence-free environment for everyone. Incidents like that in Colorado prove that we are not living in a violence-free society and nowhere is completely safe. So, even if I do feel fairly safe in my school now, thanks to the recent shootings in small towns like Littleton, remote, 'safe' places everywhere can no longer feel as though they are not at risk. The words ‘safe school' are losing all credibility and we are surrendering to a society where violence and murder do exist and are present everywhere.

Despite all the highly publicized school shootings in places like Jonesboro, Arkansas and Littleton, Colorado, there are the 'little' things like threats and name-calling that are going almost unnoticed. There is the mind set that these things are going to happen with any kind of teenage interaction, because for the most part, kids will be kids and they will fight.

Raising awareness about school violence has its benefits, but it's obviously not enough to stop it. There is no sure solution to this ongoing problem, but the more we know about it, the more we can work towards a solution, at least we can sympathize with those who have to go through it and offer support while we try to understand their pain. The victims and families of the terrifying and traumatic disaster in Colorado are just the most recent statistics in this horrible and growing problem. Hopefully they'll be the last, but it's very probable that they won't. All we can do is wait and watch while other schools get the same unfair and unexpected instant popularity that comes with a school shooting of this nature.

While there are many efforts being made now to end this chain of school violence reports, tragedies are not entirely preventable. So despite all the hard work going into preventing such tragedies from ever happening again, if we don't get to the base of the problem, we are just scratching the surface. A topic of this importance needs and deserves more than that. We should really take our cue from these cries for help from Colorado and Jonesboro and pay attention to what they are saying. Because in the end, we are going to save ourselves, and I believe that for that reason, if for no other, it's worth our undivided attention.


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