(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

Making a permanent impression since 1994

April 29, 2002

-- Opinion --

German shootings hit close to home

By Mike Nguyen

Just when school security was starting to seem safe and normal, a massacre at a German high school last week reminds everyone how much the safety of children remains threatened.

I have a hard time even writing down my opinion. It happened again, is there much more to say?

Has anything changed or is there something different with this incident that's even worth repeating?

A German student, angered by his expulsion from school, opened fire on his teachers, classmates and police Ė leaving 18 people, including the killer, dead.

An event thousands of miles away seems so close, however, because it is painfully similar to past shootings past: a troubled kid, in school and life, gets possession of dangerous arms (in this case, legally) and, angered by a trigger event, plans for months and then engages in mass murder in the classroom.

Finished with his deadly work, he kills himself, leaving his community shocked and confused.

I'm left to wonder what will happen when this generation, whose lives are filled with violence, will do when itís released to the outside world.

Will there be extreme violence on the job? If failing an exit exam, the German shooterís problem, is enough reason to murder, what will a layoff from work do?

The pressures and stresses of the real world are gigantic compared to high school, adults tell me, although I sometimes beg to differ.

Ridicule doesn't end after school. Your screaming and forever cranky teachers only become your screaming and forever cranky supervisors.

What's the solution? If we knew, we wouldn't have this problem. But communication helps.

Telling an adult of someone's plan of a school shooting is far from tattling. Yet many people are afraid to speak up.

I find it selfish that classmates' lives are in danger and the only person who can stop the school violence immediately, the shooter's friend or confidante, is too scared or worried to leak information to the principal or police. Itís disgusting, really.

In the long term, troubled teens can't be left to themselves.

They're already alone. How else can they kill without anything to hold them back?

Teens who have friends and mentors to talk with and get advice from are not suspects in school violence, no matter how dark they dress or what color their hair is or if there are guns in the home.

Schools that are well protected from violence are not the ones with surveillance cameras and metal detectors. The safe ones have guidance counselors who can give good advice, approachable principals and teachers who can teach more than just a subject.

Unfortunately, teenagers are teenagers. They're sometimes cruel, immature and totally self-absorbed.

But in their twisted and unforgiving social circles, they know friendship and comradery will keep them sane. 

Though the issue of campus security hasn't been solved yet, itís reassuring to know that the U.S. hasnít had another terrible school shooting since Columbine. Something's been done right so far.

Yet as long as there are schools with troubled kids with little direction, there's going to be school violence.

It's the sad reality teens must live with.

 

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Link to April 29, 2002 issue of The Tattoo


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