It is 7:30 on a normal Tuesday morning at Westside Elementary School. The buses
have begun to pull into the child unloading dock and have unloaded the students.

As the buses pull off, the students began to head toward their classroom to wait
for the day to begin. As the day progresses, the students ready themselves for
lunch break. As the teacher’s aid opens the door for the students to leave, she
sees four students dressed in long knee length jackets, strut briskly towards
the cafeteria. She pays it little attention and waits for lunch bell to sound.

Shortly after the bell sounds, the students leap out the door and cascade toward
the cafeteria. In the cafeteria there is a stage like platform that jutted out
like a shelf for about a third of the room. That is where all the disruptive, or
the kids that were on “silent lunch”, had to sit. About five minutes
until the bell for lunch to be over ringed, four students came into the
lunchroom. The students began to shout ferociously and scream for the students
to lie on the floor of the cafeteria. When the students wouldn’t cooperate, the
four boys reach under their coats to pull out .09mm pistols. The teachers in the
lunchroom try to contain the boys and settle them down, but the boys open fire
on them. As the adults fall on the floor, the cafeteria was in an uproar with
frightened, screaming children. With this the young boys open fire into the
crowd of students. Although this scenario is just a figment of this writer’s
imagination, we all have been subjected to similar scenes on recent T.V.

newscast. Chabert 2 This kind of horrific event has become a common element in
today’s news. What has changed so much in our environment that would possess a
child to destroy another child? The future’s survival depends on the existence
of today’s youth to survive. The society of today has to dominate over the
corroded minds of the trouble youth. It is time for members of society to open
their eyes and take control of the corrupted youth. The public should be aware
of the preventive measures against violence through out the school system. One
effective preventive measure towards safety in the school system is to establish
metal detectors throughout the school. Many schools of the nineteen nineties
have been equipped with metal detectors due to the latest increase in school
violence. These detectors are placed in the entrance of the school or may be
held by a school resource officer or school staff member. Metal detectors are
used to prevent students from bringing metal objects such as knives, guns and
other potential weapons into the learning atmosphere of the school. “8.3%
of high school students carry a weapon to school today, which is down from 26%
in 1996″(CDC 2). Metal detectors helps to establish a much needed sense of
security and allows students to concentrate on their schoolwork. Many students
believe that these metal detectors will ward off would be violators of the
school’s policy, that weapons of any kind or nature would not be permitted on
the school premises. School faculty and staff have reported that they feel safer
and more at ease with the students, when metal detectors are in use. Although
metal detectors are a step in the right direction, they alone are not the only
answer. In order for the full effect of the detectors to be achieved, there must
be some sort of security guard or monitor in place to implement them. Police and
full time security Chabert 3 guards have played an important and necessary role
in education for many years. The extent of policing was limited in the past as
compared to today however. “Police are showing up in suburban and small
town schools”(Robinson 2). The presence of police help to deter students
from violating school policies. A policy such as “no fighting”, may
include punishment such as a” three day suspension for first time offenders
“(Robinson 4). Police effectiveness is greatly due to the fact that people
in uniform maintain a higher degree of authority and respect than someone
dressed in regular street clothes. Police alone are but a small percentage of
the overall effectiveness and success of the school security (Greene 3A).

Another percentage of the success rate is due to the counselor-student
relationship. School counselors are a part of the school system and have been
for some time. Until a few years ago, they were hired by the administration for
class enrollment and to inform students of graduation requirements. But in the
last five years the role of the counselors has changed considerably. Counselors
of the late 1990’s have had to be more in touch with the students and their
emotional state of mind. Due to the latest trend in school violence, many
students have taken part in counseling programs offered by the schools. These
groups help students as well as staff members, become better informed about the
situations occurring in the life of the student of today. If a student should
choose to remain anonymous, there are hot lines that are available. This allows
the student to speak freely without worry or threat of being ridiculed. There
are other programs that are targeting today’s youth. One such program is
‘Violence Prevention through Conflict Resolution Management Training
Program”. This program encourages the student to discuss the problems and
feelings without anger. Younger children can also express themselves through
arts and crafts and even role-playing. These types of programs are Chabert 4
also a good way for the children’s parents to become involved and benefit from
the program. It is also believed that while spending time in such programs, the
children will not be exposed to the violent behavior that surrounds today’s
culture. To help ease students into a more society friendly environment many
counselors believe that the use of school uniforms would be greatly beneficial
to the social and working environment available to the students.

“Interpersonal disputes” was the cause of “33.3%” (AP 1) of
school violence through 1992-1994. Many school advisors and counselors believe
that a strict dress code would help eliminate much of the arguments between
students. These codes will allow students with a limited financial income to
feel as if they are equal to other students. School faculty and staff believe
that jealousy is the main source for interpersonal disputes but did not
extinguish the whole problem. In order to help eliminate these arguments, many
schools developed different levels of punishments. Punishment today has grown
more server than that of the past. The NAACP was very verbal about school
violence in a 1997 article. The comments came following incidents of violence in
large DeKalb county GA. “If it takes a police officer to make people safe,
that’s where we ought to start”, John Evans, DeKalb NAACP president. The
schools in DeKalb County at that time already had 12 full time police officers,
hand held metal detectors & surveillance cameras. They also had committees
in place considering gunpowder sniffing dogs as well as other safety measures.

Some examples of these are in the old days when a student got into trouble,
he/she would have to simply sit in the corner for a period of time, for a simple
class disruption. For the same situation in today’s time a student will buy a
one way ticket out of the school permanently” (Eberhart 10). In October
1994, congress in acted a law that each state receiving federal Chabert 5 Funds
would have in place a law mandating local education agencies to expel for at
least one year a student who brings a “weapon” to school. These more
strict and harsh punishments bring a sense of reality to the students who step
out of line. The superintendents and, when needed, the law enforcement officers
enforce many of these punishments policies. These extreme measures act as a
deterrent for the world’s troublemakers. With the new punishments at hand it is
a common belief that the public as well as the parents of today’s youth should
be aware of the actions of their children as well as the school system. Studies
show that these programs are starting to work (Shaw 1-8). Awareness may be the
answer to the prevention to the problems that plague our schools today. Because
of the recent media coverage, teachers as well as administrators are more alert
and eager to assist the students who are in need. “Across the country,
educators like Roberts, are paying attention to students threats of violence,
and kids who mean others harm, risk, suspension, expulsion, or even arrest”
(Hayes 5). With so many aware it will be more difficult for the violence to
reach the school system. The media allows the word of these crack downs on
violence to spread to the parents of the school children, which in turn allows
them to meter the development of hi/her child (DE 1A). A 1997 survey on schools
reporting incidents of various crimes showed Nationally 43% of schools reported
more of the listed crimes occurred during 1996-97 school year. 10% of the
schools reported at least one serious violent crime (murder, rape or other
sexual battery, suicide, physical attack or fight with weapon or robbery). 47%
report less serious or non-violent crimes including vandalism, theft/larceny,
fight or attack with out a weapon (Discipline 4). Chabert 6 With all of this in
mind one should realize that the world is ever changing, maybe not for the
better, maybe not for the worst, but still changing. These changes must be dealt
with, whether it is through the use of the metal detectors, or even making the
children conform by implementing uniforms. Some of those actions may appear to
be quite severe, but in reality, the crimes are just as severe. With gun control
laws and new students policies the children must learn what it is like to be
discipline and to be aware of their actions, and the repercussions that may
follow. Metal detectors are making it easier for kids to go to school. It will
be like boarding an airplane when going to school. This may help prevent the
horrible actions that are going on in America’s schools. The students will walk
through the detectors at the entrances of the schools. If the detector detects a
metal object a sound will be heard, and the police officer at the entrance will
be allowed to search the student (Greene 3A). Students will also be required to
wear photo ID’s when on school grounds. The students will also be required to
have see-through school bags or mesh. Some schools in America are also going as
far as have breath test at the entrance to see if the student was drinking
before school (Greene 3A). Parents are now getting involved heavily. Parents are
now meeting with school boards to make sure of their kids safety. They are
getting together to make plans on how to make schools safe for the kids. Many
parents want police on school grounds at all times making sure the kids don’t
get out of hand (Galbraith 1A). Many schools are now beginning to take action in
faculty-student programs. These programs will allow students to go to the adult
for help. The student can explain any problems to the teacher so that their
anger doesn’t get out of hand and hurt another Chabert 7 student. The student
can discuss their feelings to the teacher and also call another student in to
the conference to settle the dispute calmly instead of violently. If the first
meeting doesn’t settle the dispute, the student can always come back for
additional meetings till the problem is solved (Moore 1C). The violence in the
high schools is getting worse. The punishments throughout the schools are also
getting worse. The principals are not putting up with any kind of unacceptable
behavior. Any student caught at school with any kind of harmful weapon will be
arrested and suspended for a long time. If a student decides to pick a fight he
or she is also going to be suspended for a while. A couple of years ago a fight
would be broken up, and the student would be sent to the principal’s office. The
punishment would have been a lot less than what it is to day. (Williams G1).

Statistics show that young children are committing the killings in schools now.

Ten to fifteen year old kids are turning to violence on each other. All over the
United States people hear about third to seventh graders using guns and knives
against one another. Police have arrested many of these kids for killing another
student and wounding many others (Williams G1). Many principals were asked to
note all the crimes that have happened in their schools. U.S. public school
boards wanted to see where the most crimes were being committed. The school
boards wanted to see where the dangerous schools were, and the safe schools
were. They also took notes on the racial status on crimes. It turned out that
African-Americans were more likely to kill or commit a serious crime than
whites. This happens because most African-Americans live in city schools where
it is more dangerous to attend. These crimes occur because of either the social
status of the students or the language being said between them. The students are
at war to prove that their group is Chabert 8 better than the other group (Shaw
1-8). Where does these horrible actions stop? It is up to the American people to
take charge of the schools and make it safe for our children.

1) Fields, Monique. “Disruptive pupils get booted out.” Montgomery
Advertiser 4 Mar. 1995: 1A. 2) Green, Robert. “Security heightened at more
schools.” Dothan Eagle 31 Aug. 1998: 3A. 3) Hayes, Kristen. “Shooting
raises level of alert in school.” Dothan Eagle 1 May 1998: 1. 4) Moore, A.

A. “Class target a root of crime.” Montgomery Advertiser 26 Sept. 1997
5) Robinson, Jennifer. “Teachers say not enough being done.” Dothan
Eagle 25 Feb. 1996: 6A. 6) Shelton, Stacy. “Expelling school
violence.” Atlanta Journal Constitution 19 Oct. 1997: H1. 7)
“School-association violent death.” Birmingham News 11 June 1996. 8)
The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Initiative http://www.nyu.edu/education/metrocenter/initiative/violence/SSRP.htm
9) Galbraith, Kristy. “Parents want answers to school safety
questions.” Dothan Eagle 17 Feb. 1997: 1A. 10) Williams, Mike.

“Violence goes to high school.” Atlanta Constitution 7 Dec. 1997: G1.




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