Scouts-L Mail Archive for April of 1999: Littleton tragedy ...a different perspective
Littleton tragedy ...a different perspective
Tue, 27 Apr 1999 15:17:09 -0700
School violence is down, overall. Nevertheless, some of the remaining
incidents are a whole lot deadlier than what was going on in "our day"
as students. There's a great deal more behind this than you might
understand from the press coverage to this point.
It's more sinister than we might realize, yet is connected to the way
life is led at the student level in our schools. As Scout Leaders and
parents, I think that there is something that we can, and MUST do as a
result of some of the things I am learning...
There is a great deal of information about the Littleton school tragedy,
but there's a slightly different twist to the whole things that's come
up through, of all places, the Linux ranks. On Friday, one of the
people responsible for the Slashdot web site published an editorial
that's unleashed thousands of responses to their site. There's more
information available at the main site, as well as with the subsequent
article that Mr. Katz wrote (the second URL). There's still more in a
third article that he published today.
What's it all about? The fear and hatred that is carried around on a
daily basis by many of the kids at the lowest rungs of the social ladder
that carries on mostly out of adult sight in every school in the world.
I think that's an area where our communities (and ourselves) need to
look for the root causes of these disasters, as well as for the starting
points to dealing with the issues that make kids snap over into
Folks, it's not the ready availability of weaponry, home cooked
explosives, violent movies, games, or even the Internet. It's the
explosion of a few of the most picked on and bullied children in our
society. Do you remember the social castes in your own schools as a
child and adolescent? Remember the cruelty, the taunts, being pushed
into lockers, or the kids who were routinely beat up in the bathrooms?
Perhaps you were one of them. Perhaps you were one of the brave people
who either intervened physically or verbally, or at least went to an
adult (...and quite possibly paid a price for doing so...) Perhaps you
were one who saw but didn't go to an adult. Perhaps you were even one
of the ones taunting or hurting others.
Most of us grew up. Some didn't. A few committed suicide or went to
drugs or alcohol to deal with the pain.
By and large, most of us simply played out our roles and have put the
unpleasant aspects of our school years aside. The problem is, though,
that it's now OUR children who are living through the stresses of this
oppressive caste system. We probably don't like the caste system in
India. We typically don't recognize the caste systems at work in our
neighborhood schools, even though they are every bit as repressive as
the Indian caste system at its worst.
Our schools have their outcasts and "untouchables"
Now, some of these kids are lashing out and getting their revenge. Each
time it happens, the perpetrators have learned from the "mistakes" of
those who have gone before, and each incident becomes more efficiently
I think there's something we can, and MUST, do.
I've written an open letter, attaching some of Mr. Katz's commentary
(with his permission), and have hand delivered it to the principals in
each of the schools in our school district, as well as to the school
board. I also left a copy with the local newspaper's editor, who
thought he would like to see what happens with the letters in the school
(If you like, you can have a copy for yourself, and can use it to do
something along the same lines. It's in Adobe PDF format, so it's
platform independent. Just drop me a line and I'll send it to you.)
I signed each copy, adding my phone number. I'm willing to work on any
committee they come up with to work with the issue. After all, it's my
son's school district. He's going to hit high school next year, and I
certainly never want to have to sit around wringing my hands, wishing
SOMEBODY had tried to do SOMETHING to keep this from happening here in
this quiet northwest community.
Explore the issue a little, and see whether or not you agree with what
I'm doing. If enough of us become a bit more active on the preventive
side of this, perhaps we can head off even more disastrous situations.
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