by Marie A. Christensen Karr

Public Schools and Violence: What Can We Do?
[Article published in Opinion section, San Diego Union Tribune
- May 6, 1999]

    Once again we witness tragedy in our schools, children have slaughtered their classmates.  And we all want answers, and solutions, and some way to prevent this from ever happening again.  We, parents and educators, want to be able to assure our kids that this will never happen to them.  But can we?
    School boards all over the country are, at this moment, combing over their budgets looking for funds for security guards and metal detectors.  Finding none, some will opine: "It can't happen here."  Others will hurriedly hire under-trained guards and/or pay a small fortune for state-of-the-art metal detectors.
    Media pundits and self-proclaimed experts are expounding, at length, about "things we can do" to prevent a horrific tragedy from happening in our schools. The San Diego Union-Tribune has published an editorial begging children to tell us what to do. This will continue until another media event takes precedence.  It is, after all, a business--newspapers and television need eyeballs to sell advertising.  In the meantime, very little will change.
    The wrong questions are being asked and answered.  This isn't about gun control, school security, mental illness, computer games, or Internet violence.
    This is about culture. Not the culture that adults enjoy or tolerate or abhor (depending on your viewpoint), but the culture of the schools our children attend.  And it's not a new phenomenon, but a problem that's been growing for at least the last fifty years.  The real question is not "Why is this happening?," but "Why doesn't this happen more often?"
    Schools have evolved from the small, personal, community-oriented environment that our grandparents enjoyed, into huge, impersonal factories, where adults are involved only in classroom teaching, administration, and counseling, usually centered on a combination of college planning and classroom assignment.  The adults, certainly in most junior high or middle schools, and in almost all high schools, don't have a clue about what's going on either before or after school, in the hallways and locker rooms, restrooms and stairways.  And therein lies the answer to this awful "Why?".            [Continued


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Suggested Book: Computer-Assisted Instruction for Students at Risk for ADHD, Mild Disabilities or Academic Problems
[Back cover] This book's goal is to help teachers fully integrate computers into their classrooms. The authors also discuss learning characteristics of students, particularly those with mild disabilities; types of CAI available; uses of the computer as a tool to enhance teaching or to facilitate reports, grades and individual education plans (IEPs).