Op-Ed: School Violence
This week, three incidents of school violence are making me reminiscence about my own high school days: the Chicago school stabbing which just occurred today, the Ohio school shooting that occurred Monday, and the Joanna Ramos tragedy that occurred last Friday.
When I was in high school, it seems like every month people got into fights. At some point, our principal and assistant principal summoned the students to the cafeteria for a meeting.
The assistant principal said something along the lines of, “We’re so tired of hearing about these fights over “he said-she said” stuff.” By that, they’d meant that the fights were occurring over things that people said about someone.
The assistant principal then asked us, “Why couldn’t we talk out our problems?”
The response from most of my fellow classmates was loud muttering, as if the assistant principal had suggested something stupid.
At the time, I didn’t understand how these fights could occur or what people should do about it. That is, until I went through some troubling times of my own.
My high school years were half happy and half angst-ridden. Whenever the latter occurred, I would be either depressed or angry. Unlike some of my classmates though, I had healthy ways to get rid of these feelings: reading, listening to music, and writing. Yet, there were days I wanted to explode and take out my feelings on others because it seemed like no one understood or cared about how I felt.
It is the feeling of being about to explode or wanting to explode, the lack of healthy outlets, and the lack of resources like counseling that causes tragic school violence to occur.
When I was in high school, it seemed like all the school faculty cared about was passing tests. I remember them saying clearly over and over, “We gotta make AYP (academic yearly performance).” “We gotta get our test scores up, we gotta keep our test scores up.”
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Just because students have good grades, doesn’t mean they are all right inside. I made honor roll every year, yet I was still unhappy half the time I attended school. If it wasn’t for my healthy alternatives and outlets, I would have self-destructed and maybe hurt others around me.
That is why everyone around a student as well as the students themselves need to start doing the following:
- Talk! Teachers, parents, and students should ask or tell how a student or fellow peer is doing every day. While it might not be easy, doing so can prevent emotions being bottled up and exploding.
- Find healthy outlets to blow off steam. Examples of this have already been given from my experience, but others can include sports and music. In some cases, talking can also be a good outlet.
- Find resources if you need to get help. Schools should provide resources via the counseling office for things such as depression or stress management, but you can always look online or in your local library for additional material.