Bloodbaths in Schools: Teens increasingly living the deadly dream?

Teens walk a fine line between childhood and adulthood, often stumbling back and forth. Many of them have to try hard to regain their balance to survive teenage while others succumb to the pressure. America has left behind countries like Russia and Israel in the number of school shootings that have occured overtime. Even in the most crime-infested neighborhoods, school turf is considered safe until the unspeakable happens. As school shootings dot the map of the country with increasing frequency, we have to start thinking why this is happening? Why here, in America?

Psychologists have seamed profiles of school shooters but it is difficult to put a finger on one of them or point out a single factor that might be triggering these shootings. These factors range from the simple act of bullying to the complexities teens face living in a society where owning a gun is no big deal.  

Survival of the Fittest

Why are teens who are bullied in schoolyards more likely to ‘pull a Columbine’? Teens just don’t become mass murderers in the blink of an eye. They nurture the vengeance they feel because of bullies. There are signs and red flags, and people in close contact to these shooters hear the rumblings of agression. High school bullying is hiking up the academic mountain steadily. But as schoolyard bullying increases, so have anti-bullying programs in the field of education. We must also not overlook the fact that bullying is not the root of all school shootings in America.

Alienation at High Schools

“I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things.” These were the words of Eric Harris, one of the shooters of the Columbine High School massacre whose life was wrought with alienation at school and social awkwardness. Rod Paige, Education Secretary of United States of America from 2001 to 2005 after one of these massacres said that alienation is one of the biggest factors that lead to school shootings.

Cyber Abuse

Traditional bullying has travelled much further and evolved with the introduction of the internet. Cyber-bullying and other technological-based terror is now a norm to students. Bullies take help from a multitude of gadgets like cell phones, computers and social networking sites to instill a sense of fear among their classmates. Things have moved past the more obvious fistfights and have morphed into different kinds of cyber abuse which in turn can lead to dangerous outcomes like school shootings and teen suicide.

The most recent case of teenaged Megan Mier’s suicide created ripples throughout the nation. She had befriended a 16-year old boy on MySpace and was later rebuffed by him. As a result, she hung herself and ended her life. 

Teachers and Management

Charles Williams, the shooter of the Santana High School killings in 2001 confessed that he had gone to the school counselor just two weeks before the shooting. He had been sent back to class because the counselor didn’t have time to listen to his problems. He had been dealing with alienation at school because he was new to the area. The only friends he found were in the form of a group of delinquent skateboarders, who also bullied him from time to time.

In many school shootings, teachers and people of the management have been victims of the shooting, but it is a fact that in many instances educators themselves initiates bullying which leads students to abandon their academic goals and pick up a gun.

Access to Guns

There have been school attacks with bats and knives but nothing is more bloody than a teenage school shooting with a gun. A school in China was attacked by a man armed with a knife. Though it was bloody and horrific, it was nowhere near what we have seen in Columbine or Chardon, Ohio. A teenager with a loaded gun kills other kids at school. It is fair to ask how he accessed the firearm so easily? What are the parents doing while their children are suffering problems at school. More importantly, why aren't they keeping their weapons out of their child's reach?

Are parents to blame or is it the school management that is at fault? From the year 1992 there has been an increase in school shootings in America. To tackle this problem, schools have moved to a higher level of security but have forgotten to attack other serious problems like alienation, bullying, and cyber abuse. High school students do have counselors to help them solve their problems but the Charles Andrew Williams case clearly indicates that something is amiss there. Instead of creating a safe haven for students, school managements have just built a fortress for them.

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