School Violence

Learning the hard way

By Matt Pierce
Cole Harbour Regional High
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Teasing in high school - a fairly innocent thing, right? Everyone gets teased now and then, don't they? And then, what's the big deal about making a little fun of those who aren't quite as "cool" as the "in" crowd? What's the worst that could happen?

Horrifyingly enough, we got the answer to that very question. The result was a shockwave that tore through the hearts of people across North America, and made the world as we know it think twice about how they treat others who may be different in any way.

The tragic shooting deaths of fifteen people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, not to mention the murder of Jason Lang in the tiny community of Taber, Alberta, have brought to the attention of our global society the inevitable truth that even in high school, there are kids who have been driven to the point where taking lives to gain revenge has become an option.

Although it is the evil deeds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Littleton, and a fourteen-year-old protected under the Young Offenders Act in Taber, that must be the center of our focus, we must also look beyond the murders, and look at what perhaps influenced the killers' mindset. What causes a child, or any human being for that matter, to go on a shooting rampage? What forces them into a state of mind where they show no remorse in aimlessly ending the lives of innocent and often heroic people. Looking down the list of the fatalities at Columbine High: candidate for valedictorian, captain of the volleyball team, fun-loving and respected teacher, just to name a few.

This may be a completely heartless thing to say, but these teenage killers may have proved their point. Though they did it in the worst possible way, they have shown not only fellow Columbine students, but the entire world the extremes to which constant teasing and discrimination can push some people. We can now begin to understand the torment these 'outcasts' go through, and how it can completely distort they way they live their lives.

My heart goes out first to all the victims at Columbine and to Jason Lang in Taber, but also to all those across the globe who experience discriminational abuse daily. May these terrible acts be a lesson to us all, for our safety but more importantly, for peace of mind to those who have suffered through the teasing.