Should society address school violence? Is that a question people are really asking? The front page of www.cnn.com, March 6th 2008, has the following headlines:
Seminary attack kills 8, UNC mourns slain student; killer hunted , Student’s school shooting plot foiled, police say , Auburn student killed, car in flames,
Perhaps I am oblivious to the world around me, but as a teacher, these things SCREAM out. Society will fall apart if we don’t get this violence under control.
School violence is a pandemic. It snakes its way into all realms of socioeconomic status. No longer can we ascribe violence to the uneducated. Certainly college students would not fit that bill and yet, all I need say is, Virginia Tech, and you know I speak truth.
As human beings we desperately seek to place blame on some societal fault or shortcoming. However, this is not easily accomplished. Perhaps the real answer requires that we develop a new perspective on the way we live our lives. I prefer to call this the Leo the Lop (Cosgrove, 1979) philosophy of life. When we start to look at the people who inhabit the world we live in with the attitude created by this philosophy, the world becomes a much more tolerant place. A place I wouldn’t mind living in.
Leo the Lop is a marvelous story about intolerance and bullying. Ultimately, the main character, and the bullies therein, discover that, according to Cosgrove (1979), “Normal is whatever you are.” Contemplating the world and the people within it from this vantage point will illuminate some universal truths. First of all, people are people, regardless of race, religion, culture, orientation or any other label we might impute to them. Therefore, and secondly, no single “group” is better than the other. This revelation would do wonders for eradicating the problem that is school violence.
School violence happens for a number of reasons; the first being that the victim doesn’t fit in with societal norms and certain others feel that this person should not coexist with them. The second rationale stems from the perpetrator’s belief that the victims think he doesn’t belong so rather than change, he decides to eliminate the problem.
If we were able, as the “human society,” to begin to view each other as equals, understanding that, “Normal is whatever you are,” (Cosgrove, 1979) we might be able to supersede the causes of these violent acts. Until which time we are able to open our own eyes, rather than view things via media presentation, we are doomed to perpetuate the ignorance that resounds in violence. Ultimately, there is no violent solution!