“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I have often heard. We know people kill people. The real issue now is whether or not people can change people. Some are of the opinion that we are capable of doing so; by implementing new reforms and tightening school security, people are, in effect, saying they have the solutions to the problems. The violence of recent school shootings has wrought anxiety and fear in parents, teachers, and administrators across the nation. The massacre of Columbine turned a public school library into a cemetery. The shooting in Oklahoma ripped us from the comfort of a stereotypical and easily recognized threat; now popular straight-A students pull guns without black trench coats. The violence has become unpredictable and, in all cases, extremely frightening. In response to the threat, schools have engaged in extensive prevention programs, often banning book-bags, implementing dress codes, setting up metal detectors, or requiring students to attend anger management classes. Such attempts at reform sound efficient on paper and may to some extent alleviate the anxieties of parents, but they are like storming castle walls with slingshots. The object of reform in this case is not tangible or always plausible. The object of reform is the human heart, the internal person. We need to understand that the problem is bigger than a trench coat or a gun; therefore, dress codes or metal detectors cannot solve it. These reforms are often vain attempts at prevention. They hinder education and provoke students. Policy makers and schools need to be aware that no simple public mandate can suffice as a solution.
In response to the massacres, schoo...
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...ain—is wider than the sky—”.
We cannot implement a reform that will change human nature. There is no dress code that will bring self-esteem to the outcast or humble the popular. There is no metal detector that can sufficiently alert a student population to an angry and violent peer. The problem this nation faces is that of hurting hearts and minds. To present a concrete solution one must have a concrete problem, but this problem is complicated and its factors at times inexplicable. Its enormity resides in human emotion, its source as large as the capacity of the human mind. It is, therefore, as Dickinson aptly put: “wider than the sky.”
Mathis, Deborah. “Schools Fail at Stopping Violence.” The Cincinnati Enquirer 7 December 1999, Final ed./Warren: A3.
Miller, Mark. “The Haunting Memories.” Newsweek 13 December 1999, Final ed./Warren: 75.
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