Violence is commonplace, but the concept of teen violence seems to have a more jarring effect on society.
In recent years, shootings and other attacks in high schools have opened adults’ eyes to the fact that our future leaders are solving problems with brutality.
Last month, two Germantown High School students attacked a teacher when he tried to take an iPod away from them. The teacher was sent to the hospital with a broken neck. The students were in the process of being expelled from Germantown High before the incident occurred. Not long after that, a West Philadelphia High School teacher was attacked by three students as he tried to stop them from jumping on cars parked in front of the school.
The notion that schools are not a safe haven came about after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999. After that, a string of other high school shootings forced people to realize that Columbine was not an isolated
incident. Teenagers are becoming more violent and they are bringing that violence to schools.
Temple had its own set of attacks in February. They involved a non-Temple-affiliated teenage male who asked women for their cell phones, then groped and robbed them. Police arrested a juvenile suspect in connection with the crimes.
People may assume the problem is found only in inner cities and within lower income communities, however, the Columbine shootings (and those that occurred shortly after) took place in suburban schools, which means socioeconomics has nothing to do with teenage violence. So why are teenagers becoming increasingly more violent?
Kristi Brian, a Temple sociology professor, believes it is because teens feel that power is not equally distributed.
“They grasp for a feeling of power where they can get it,” Brian said. “They see people in power using violence to solve problems.” When the people who have the most power in our country are using it to start wars and invade countries, teenagers may feel violence is the best display of power.
After the Columbine incident, officials told authorities and reporters they would combat the violence with more security.
Metal detectors graced the entrances of buildings, and security guards patrolled hallways and parking lots. But what about the weapons that slip past metal detectors – the ones every person has available to them?
The students at Germantown High used nothing but their hands to break a teacher’s neck. Security guards would have to be stationed at every corner of the school in order to stop such attacks. At that rate, guards would outnumber faculty members, making schools more like prisons.
In fact, if violence in schools keeps increasing both in severity and frequency, the only measure left for schools to take would be to turn into virtual prisons.
Uniforms would have to be instituted, personal property such as cell phones and mp3 players would be banned and schoolbags would be done away with so students couldn’t conceal weapons or drugs. Security guards would be visible in every area of the schools, creating a tense environment poorly conducive to learning. It may be safer, but it is no way to get an education.
The best way to stop teenage violence is to find the source. No one is violent without reason, so by finding the source and creating a solution, the violence can be stopped.
“Young people desperately need to be heard,” Brian said. “Strong voices from within their communities, not from outside authorities, must assure young people that they are needed, that their lives are not disposable.”
If people would take the time to listen to one another, violence would decrease. Schools that are filled with violence encourage it because those who use brute force often get what they want. To stop school violence, we must slow down and listen.
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.