The solution to ending school violence does not come in the form of supped-up security. When we dress our schools up to look like prisons, with metal detectors at the doors, high wire fences, armed security guards on constant patrol, and locker searches we are bringing an air of violence into the schools. The more kids see these things, the more they visualize violence, the more they think about it, the more it will happen. When such security measures are present, they are an constant reminder of violence and this continuous cueing will in fact have the opposite effect as to why we are putting the security measures in place to begin with.
As a teacher I am constantly challenged by the secondary students’ way of thinking. Like anyone, the more rules and restriction, the more they want to break free. For example; in my classroom I created a “no gum chewing” policy. It gets stuck to desks, ends up in hair, and on more than one occasion in my chair. With this policy instated, I thought students came to my class chewing gum just to try and get away with it. It became a constant clash of restriction vs. proclaiming independence. This year I have not brought up any gum chewing rules and the amount of students who chew gum in my class has dropped to only a few. This is not because they don’t want to, but because when I would mention gum, even in negative light, the very mention of it got them thinking about it, which led to them chewing it, which led me to sitting on it. While gum chewing is a far cry from the severity of school violence, the concept is the same. If we tell them not to be violent and put up constant reminders about violence, then violent acts will be on the forefront of their minds and it will be talked about more nonchalantly and therefore acted out.
The real solution to violence in schools is not increasing restriction, but increasing opportunities for positive action; focusing on the behavior we desire, rather than the behavior we don’t. We must change our vocabulary so we don’t talk about violence, instead we talk about peace. We don’t talk about drugs, instead we talk about being healthy. We don’t talk about failing, instead we talk about success.
The main focus of schools and their money should not be to buy new security features because let’s face it, if a student wants to commit an act of violence, he will, and no new technology is going to stop him. If we tear all that down and highlight the students who do good deeds daily, reward rather than punish, and talk positively then those thoughts of violence will decrease and very shortly after the violent acts will too.