"Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness
in Man's heart..."
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Within the past four weeks, almost every individual person
in North America has at least heard of the massacres which occurred
at Columbine High in Colorado. It is impossible not to understand
what has happened, as the only thing more disgusting than the
events which took place in that high school was the enormous
amount of media coverage that has surrounded it.
Hundreds of reporters from every major news station and newspaper
in the U.S. and Canada have given their opinions; either on who
is to blame, or the never-ending question of why? Still, after
all the camera crews have packed up and gone home, and the newspapers
have been read and thrown out, the story does not end. Other
students must get up the next morning and head for their schools.
Teenagers must look into the eyes of their fellow classmates
and wonder if such a thing might happen to them.
What can be done? How can such a scenario be prevented from
happening again? Much of the focus for these questions has centered
around adults. People who are considered experts in child psychology
However, while the signs may be present, how can one predict
disaster? Does the student who is ridiculed and ostrasized throughout
most of his educational life serve as an example of a psychopath?
Perhaps the answer does lay within the complex nature of psycho-analysis
by a professional.
However, the more likely solution is to look within the walls
of the schools. To ask students and teachers who are living in
this potentially dangerous environment everyday.
"I guess like everyone else, I was appalled that this
could happen." Kristina Mellway, student at Canterbury High
School in Ottawa, Ontario, said when asked about her initial
reaction to the shootings. "This event just shows that we
need to have more security."
Other students reaffirmed Mellway's comments, saying that
they were overwhelmed by the massacre. The reaction by students
to the situation in Colorado has been very much
emphasized, but what of the shooting that has now happened in
"I spent time reassuring myself that something like that
could never happen in Canada, much less Newfoundland. But then
there was a shooting in Taber a little closer to home and I was
scared," said Chelsea Hellings, who lives in Norman's Cove,
Such an event has driven home the hard fact that the terrible
horror of teenage shootings can happen anywhere. Since the student
in Taber shot two of his schoolmates, a rash of threats
have broken out across Canada from students that are either fed
up with the abuse they have taken, or are simply following the
lead of others who wish to make some sort of sick statement to
When asking students how they feel about the events which
have recently taken place, the answers are all very similar.
However, when asked for suggestions on how these events can be
controlled, the answers are not as simple. Some students suggested
gun control, while others suggested that more attention should
be given by parents. Regardless of the reasons given, the blame
could not be laid solely in any one place.
So where does this leave us? What does the future hold for
today's youth? At least many of the people who were not listening
before are listening now. However, listening is not enough. We
have to act. At the very least, people are beginning to understand
that the location does not play a critical role, and that no
one can profess to be safe from these horrible events. The fact
that psychological disorders transcend international boundaries
is a given, and while some cultures can often assist these rebels
in their quest (the availability of guns in the United States),
the incident in Taber, Alberta stands as a testament that such
horror can and will happen regardless of society's rules.
Needless to say, teachers were as horrified as students to
hear about the events.
"My initial reaction to the shootings was one of revulsion,"
said Mr. Jim Moore, head of the English Department at Bishops
College in Newfoundland. "I was sitting at the TV when the
first report broke in and I actually became physically ill...the
thought that it could happen in the same venue as the one in
which I work got to me. I was probably thinking subconsciously
"What if..." This comment speaks for most teachers,
for no one could predict the suffering and international awareness
that this situation has generated.
Still, none of this is profound. The issues of gun control,
or parental neglect which are involved have been over-emphasized.
The ideas that if we put metal detectors at the entrances of
every school in the country, or if we psychologically analyze
children at young ages, we can prevent these sorts of massacres
are false. The answers to such maddening questions do not lay
at the end of some complex mathematical equation. Jim Moore summed
this particular fact up best by quoting Shakespeare. "There
is no art to tell the mind's construction in the face."
And so we return to the beginning. We arrive at the point where
an answer should be presented. However, there is no simple answer.
Perhaps the only thing we can hope for is that each individual
person makes a strand, one at a time. Judging by the responses
presented in this article, people already have. Teenagers are
the future, and it will be what we make it.