***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
One of the saddest experiences I’ve had in life was to attend a candlelight vigil at my hometown elementary school after the beloved principal was gunned down in his office.
There seems to be a few commonalities between school shootings. Retaliation for bullying is high on the list. A gang war isn’t a surprise. The love triangle is shocking.
BLOG POST #98: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving a high school shooting.
Children are a large part of the problem and need to be involved in the solution.
How Does a Bully Choose a Victim?
To quantify bullying is hard. One person can respond to criticism and ridicule with a shrug of their shoulders. Another person may retreat, be fearful and become depressed.
Being a kid is tough. When you add low self-esteem, low self-worth, body image, difficult home life, or any of the myriad of challenging scenarios children must overcome, and you have a prime candidate for bullying.
Females respond to bullying differently than males because the male ego is in play. And it seems boys during the years when hormones are raging are the most volatile.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies responding to any event with violence.
How Not to Respond to Bullying
The 15-year-old boy had been attending the high school for one year. His relative said he’d mentioned he was being bullied. They didn’t realize it was as bad as it must have been. Another relative was unaware the young boy had searched her home and found a gun.
Upon arriving at school, the 15-year-old and the other boy, the one he claimed was a bully, met near the entrance of the school. It was a normal day for the other students until two shots rang out.
The 15-year-old shooter dropped the gun and turned himself in to the principal to await law enforcement.
The alleged bully was shot twice and taken to a hospital where he spent two months in intensive care.
The community, staff, parents, and classmates held a candlelight vigil at the school. Getting together after a tragedy is both heartbreaking and healing.
Schools Cannot Stop School Violence
The authorities arrested the shooter and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon. His case was transferred from juvenile court to adult court. The 15-year-old was sentenced to 6 years and 10 months in state prison.
During the investigation, it became known the shooter had been charged with stabbing another student at the previous high school. This made me wonder if bullying was at the core of the conflict or did the shooter have violent tendencies.
Teachers teach. Principals make sure schools run efficiently, stay within a budget, and monitor student achievement. Most schools don’t have marshals or resource officers to police the campuses. The staff whose job it is to ‘monitor’ students is often a woman or older person supplementing a retirement. There are also custodians, librarians, computer techs, classroom aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc. At most schools, nobody is trained to be aware of building tension between students, nor are they trained to derail an altercation or anticipate looming violence.
For helpful information on how to address bullying visit the StopBullying.gov website.
I believe students are one of the keys to ending school violence. When community leaders, law enforcement, school administration, and parents get together to brainstorm methods to end school violence they seldom include students. In my opinion, if children aren’t part of the solution, the solution will fail.
I was chatting with someone in the United Kingdom the other day; he mentioned a school massacre that happened there in 1996. Sixteen children and one adult were killed that day. In response to this shooting, tighter private ownership gun restrictions were enacted. They haven’t had a school massacre since.
Is tighter gun control the answer? One thing is certain; people are passionate about their opinions on both sides of this debate.
What do you think about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
Thanks for reading!