Peer pressure, depression, and lack of acceptance are major contributors in the rise of school violence among teenagers.
As we are all very much aware of, school violence and school related crimes are becoming a growing problem. We have all seen reports on the news broadcasts and in the newspapers about teenagers vandalizing neighborhoods, street gangs and school shootings. On May 19, 1998 in Fayetteville, TN., An eighteen-year-old honor student, Jacob Davis, had killed a classmate in the parking lot of Lincoln County High School just before graduation, because the other boy was dating his ex-girlfriend. And a year later, on April 20 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had killed 12 students and one teacher and wounded 23 others when they went on a rampage at Columbine High School (Obmascik 40). The fact is that in nearly all of last year’s rampages, and in previous violent incidents, the shooters or assailants had made numerous threats or dropped hints that they were thinking of putting a violent plan into action. Most of the perpetrators also had a history of violence or anti-social behavior that had gone unchecked or ignored (40). Another interesting common link between all of these violent crimes, is that the assailants are almost always white teenage males. Statistics show that in 1999, nearly a million kids who attended school, had brought a firearm to school or had been armed with another weapon, more than six times. Of the students who carried a gun to school, 59 percent were white, 18 percent were black, and 12 percent were Hispanic (Koch 20). Remarkably, these chilling numbers suggest that for every classroom of 30 students, in every school across America, on average, at least one student has brought a gun to school.
In grades six through 12. An unusual fact, that not too many people realize, is that while gang related violence occurs all year round, school shootings occur at specific times of the year; most of them happen in the winter and spring. It is because of all of the previous and most recent crimes, that people are continually asking the questions: Where and why does the violence start? And exactly what causes it? The truth of the matter is that the violence can happen anywhere. And part of the reason as to why these attacks are occurring so often, is that teenagers are constantly being pressured to do things and to succeed by their friends and family. “I think there’s a lot more pressure on our kids today than there was when we were growing up” (Egan 70-71). Teenagers are also being influenced from TV, music, and movies, where they are exposed to excess violence. Shockingly, many of these forms of entertainment often glorify death and violent actions and portray them in such a way to the public that they are made to look appealing. “It’s a way of appearing to do something about a problem that adults created, namely a society that inundates youths with violence in music, movies, video games and television and allows them easy access to guns. It’s a social problem that we’ve all created (Koch 16). Sadly, because of this fact in our society, many of these troubled youths feel that the only way to get rid of their problems, is to get rid of the people. To different degrees, each of the school shooters and attackers seemed to have been obsessed with violent pop culture (70). Many of the attackers said that they were influenced by violent movies. There is also disturbing evidence that the attackers were almost re-creating scenes from their favorite movies. Personal trauma, failure and depression also play key roles in this issue.
Each case involved a child who felt inferior or picked on, and they all held a grudge against another student or a teacher. When adults and psychologists later questioned the surviving perpetrators, the teenagers complained of being fat, treated as outcasts or felt unwanted. Unaccepted or unloved. As we all are very much aware of from our own personal experiences, teenagers at school can sometimes treat other students, especially the outcasts or unpopular ones, very cruelly. It’s when theses already tormented and pressured kids reach the breaking point that we have this problem. In fact, all of the assailants suffered sever depression and were suicidal. Most of the attackers also remarkably had an above average intelligence. Many of them were honor role students (70). Evidence shows that depression affects the body not only mentally but also physically. New studies show that depression affects and damages the body organs including the brain and the heart. The difference between a usual depressed teen and a teenage school shooter is that the two people are affected be depression differently psychologically (Elias 6). In many cases, the adults and teachers involved in the attacks had never taken the threats and warning signs seriously. Sadly they were usually overlooked. Another problem is that some of the other students or their friends who had known about the warning signs or plans had made the fatal mistake of not speaking up (Egan 70). ” Kids told us they could remember the exact time in their life when they went to talk to a teacher or somebody [about a problem] and the adult just told them Buck up. That’s a part of growing up.’ [When] that trust is broken, it’s hard for that kid to ask for help again” (Teicher 1). The people in our society have to realize that it’s very important to never ignore a threat or warning sign and to identify the problem students and get them help. However, even if we pay more attention to the troubled individual, and even with gun laws and restrictions, studies show that any student can easily get a gun in less then a day. “Generally, generally, America’s schools are safe places to be” said attorney General Alberto Gonzales, “your kids are much more likely to be safer in school than they are at the mall. And that’s the good news. We are, however, seeing some indications in the last two years that those trends are drastically changing.”(Chaddock 1).
In Conclusion, We need to change our society if we want to see an improvement in
teenagers behavior and actions. We have to act now and change the way trends are going before it gets too out of hand. If people listen more, speak up, and do something about a threat, and enforce stricter gun laws, then we can prevent another tragedy from happening.
Chaddock, Russell Gail. “How to make U.S. schools safer.” The Christian Science Monitor Oct 19, 2006. http://infotrac.galegroup.com/k12/infomark/>.
Egan, Timothy. “From Adolescent Angst to Shooting Up Schools.” New York Times, June 14 1998. May 25, 2007.
Elias, Marilyn. “On the Couch: Mental Health” USA Today, April 27, 2005. May 22, 2007
Koch, Kathy. “School Violence; Are American Schools Safe?” CQ Researcher, October 9, 1998. May 24, 2007.
Obmascik Mark. Colorado, “World Mourns Deaths At Columbine High.” Denver Post, April 22,1999. May 24, 2007.
Teicher Stacy A. “How To Break The Code Of Silence.” The Christian Science Monitor, October 19, 2006. May 23, 2007. http://infotrac.galegroup.com/k12/infomark/>.