Can We Make Our Schools Safer?

*edited 

Oh, look.  Another school shooting.  Dismaying, but not surprising.  If you’re a regular reader, you may have already read a bit about my feelings and theories on Newtown and similar senseless and sensational crimes.  People are tempted to bring all sorts of political opinions  to issue, even if they have little (or nothing) to do with the crimes in question.  Many people spout rhetoric as an almost knee-jerk reaction, but a lot of people are just plain scared and are looking for an answer- any answer- to the problems plaguing our country and the world.

I don’t know what to do about guns.  I do believe access to guns is too easy.  People that don’t have guns of their own seem to be able to still procure them with relative ease, sometimes simply by stealing or “borrowing” one from someone they know.

Kern County sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference Thursday night that the 16-year-old used a shotgun that belonged to his brother and went to bed Wednesday night with a plan to shoot two fellow students. (source)

I don’t think Mental Health Care reform is the problem, and at any rate, that seems to take the focus off the victims and hand the perpetrator an excuse.

Letting “God back in the schools” won’t do it either.

But one thing I think we can focus on is making our schools safer.  I don’t want to hear that it’s expensive.  The money that goes to inflated Congressional salaries and frivolous expenditures can and should be re-routed to make our children safer.

One thing that would help is to “treat schools like we treat courthouses,” as my hubby says.  I think metal detectors would be a great investment.  Every unsecured, public entrance to the school should have one.  (Really, ALL entrances should have one, but let’s not give the guys that write the budget simultaneous coronaries just yet.)  And a security guard posted at each entrance, especially during the hours of the day when there is high volume traffic.  If a metal detector is triggered, the guards can be on hand to handle the situation, and if a metal detector goes off at any given time during the day and is not immediately shut down, there should be a school-wide protocol that directs all teachers to lock down their classrooms.  Any students in the halls during a lock down would be directed to hide or make their way to a predetermined safe location.  Security officers should be specially trained to handle crisis situations.  We’re not talking a supermarket cop collaring people for trying to smuggle candied hams out in their drawls, we’re security personnel with the training and the will to take down a kids with a gun.  These little punks aren’t playin’ around and they need to know that the schools and the cops aren’t either.

Garrett-PD6500i-walk-through-metal-detector pic-11

Speaking of which, I know I can’t be alone in calling for stricter laws on media reporting, especially in the first few hours after a crisis.  One of the reasons that these freaks end up doing things on such a massive scale, shooting up schools and killing their whole families and whatnot, is because they think they can make a mark on the world, hurt people with their rage,  wrong others the way they’ve been wronged (in their pathetic little minds.)  I realize that people want to understand why these people do the horrible things they do, but the answers are usually more complicated than blaming guns, video games, music, or bullying.   Aside from whatever deranged, disturbed thoughts might pop out of the killers’ mouths if we were to ask them why, we usually don’t get that opportunity, because they often end up dead.  And it doesn’t really matter anyway.  What matters are the victims, and the media needs to take steps to keep the focus on them instead of glorifying the killer by validating his actions and intentions with exhaustive media coverage.

Well, the media will always cry “1st amendment “ and “the public has the right to know! so I’m sure I might as well just wish in one hand as far as media accountability, so back to the metal detector thing…it may not be a perfect solution, but it is one concrete step we as a community can take to try and make our schools safer for our children.

*see some of the stupid things the government could cut from their budget to make our schools safer!

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STFU- Violence and Taking Responsibility

We are living in a world I almost don’t recognize.  Or maybe I just wish I didn’t recognize it.  We live in a world where parents can murder their own children and then lie about it while a whole country looks on.  We live in a world where a man can murder his pregnant wife, and where kids go to school and shoot up the place, with reasonable expectations, or even plans, of dying.  A place where people do drugs they know could lead them to acts of cannibalism and violence and kids feed firecrackers to dogs.

And if everybody whines enough- about their jobs, their parents, society- there’s even a chance of getting away with these horrible crimes.  Or being paid money.

All of us “normal” people are clamoring for an explanation, an end to the violence.  So, after quite a few conversations in this vein, I have decided to blog my ideas on the topic.  Now let me start with a disclaimer:

The following is my opinion and is based on all my education, experience, discussions, and observations.  While I do have a BS in Psychology and Sociology, I am by no means an expert.  Nor is my opinion rooted in theology. I’m not going to tell you everything would be “fixed” if we put God back into the schools.  The problem facing America (and many other industrialized nations) is complex, therefore the answer will also be complex.  For each act of violence there may often be “mitigating” circumstances.  Sociological causes (basically, how society influences the behavior of individuals) and psychological causes have been suggested.

I was abused as a child so I … [blah blah blah]

or It’s because we are so poor that I had to [blah blah blah]

I’m not even going to say these things aren’t sometimes factors.  However, I think there is way more flagrant violence than can be accounted for legitimately with these excuses.

And I can’t tell you how it burns me up, every time some school kid goes on a rampage and then it comes out “he listened to heavy metal,” or “he played violent video games.”

So let me tell you what I think a BIG part of the problem is…

Lack of accountability.   Yup.  That’s it.  Every time a parent sues someone over some little transgression, they are teaching their children that if you don’t get your way, you can basically bully someone into doing what you want.  Really, what are frivolous lawsuits but attempts to legally bully someone?

And any time a kid shoots at someone or kills his parents or a sibling, there’s a whole league of people waiting hand the kid his excuses on a silver platter.  I feel like this kid who took a shotgun to Perry Hall High is a perfect example.  He has seen on television how he can walk into a school and shoot it up, make whatever inane point by doing so, and then escape facing any consequences by killing himself or having the cops kill him.  I’m not saying TV is at fault.  I’m saying he has learned that he can “make a statement” dramatically because others have done it before him and there have been no real consequences.  After all, what consequences can you expect if you’re dead?  But the whole point is that people have been led to believe that they are entitled somehow.  I am all for equality and compassion and tolerance of others, but the country has gone so far down the Politically Correct road, that now everybody feels like they are owed something, and every time someone wins a lawsuit over some dumb shit, it reinforces the idea of non-culpability and entitlement.  

Every time a burglar gets bit by his victim’s dog or cuts himself on his victim’s kitchen knife and then wins a lawsuit about it, our own legal system is enforcing the idea that you can not only escape responsibility for your actions, but actually profit from them.

Casey Anthony is another example (barf.)  This bitch led a whole nation on an emotional hunt for a child she already KNEW was dead.  At this point, let’s even assume she didn’t intentionally kill the baby.  She willfully covered it up and lied repeatedly about it.  And really, she’s basically gotten away with it, with a slap on the wrist, a butt-load of attention (which I’m sure she loved in all her sophomoric twisted-ness), and probably an even bigger butt-load of offers for made-for-tv movies and interviews and whatever.  It’s sick.

How about the newest thing, bath salts?  After several documented cases of cannibal-like behavior resulting from the use of bath salts, this asshole  is deemed “not competent” to stand trial for being found in his bedroom with a dead pygmy goat.  A pygmy goat he stole, allegedly raped, and then butchered.  Well, by all means, let’s cart him off to a mental facility for 6 months, let him out, and then when he does the same thing to a human victim, maybe THEN he’ll be competent to stand trial.

My bad. I thought if you willingly ingested mind-altering substances, you were held responsible for any illegal actions you might commit while on said substances…

So, basically, he was crazy before he ever took the drugs?  Oh, well than that’s different.  Next time, just don’t let him out without his leash and everything will be fine.

And please can we just stop with the over-simplistic and ignorant answers to the problem?  It’s not Marilyn Manson or violent video games and movies.  I am a 31 year old mother and a wife and I have listened to metal, watched horror movies with a passion, and played video games since…forever.  I’d not stomp a spider, let alone kill a person in cold blood.  By the time a child gets to the appropriate age for such games and films, he/she should be old enough to know right from wrong and real from imaginary…and if the kid is still young and still learning these delicate worldly ideas, then maybe the parents should be held responsible for allowing said child access to media that is too mature (violent) for them in the first place.

It’s not lack of God in the schools.  Thanks; I’m not religious, yet my code of ethics and my level of tolerance is undoubtedly stronger than many so-called religious people.  God hates fags?  Really?  Did he tell you that himself?  Didn’t he also say “judge not…”?  Last time I checked, God doesn’t preach hate.  

(And here’s a real mind-fuck… How many church “people” have you heard of who disparage the violence and sexuality in today’s music and TV?  Okay, now, how many church officials have you heard of who have been caught molesting children? My point here is not necessarily to disparage religion, but to point out that there are many good people who are not religious, and many religious people who are not necessarily good.   Also, as indicative of the above passage, a lot of people hide behind religion as a way to justify hate.)

It’s not our DNA or our “killer” instinct…  And even if it was, the whole idea behind being human is that we have higher thought processes, and here’s a novel idea– the ability to exert self-control and make conscious decisions.

I’m not saying my theory holds the key to the ultimate solution.  The things that drive people to violence are varied and often complex.  Violence could never be completely eradicated.  But we can start by adopting a lower tolerance to it.  This starts at home, and it’s up to the legal system to enforce the idea of consequences and accountability out in the “real world.”  Let’s not forget that the rules appear to be different for folks with fame/and or money.  Kids see their pop culture icons getting away with all sorts of crap.   The little girls who used to be in the Mickey Mouse club are crashing into people with their cars while they’re drunk and yet some people are worried about a video games corrupting kids?

Get your head on straight, people.

And this may sound counterproductive in combating violence in society…but have you ever met teen that was so obnoxious you couldn’t help but think maybe their parents should have smacked them around more during their formative years?  I know I have.

For instance, if I ever saw MY kid run into a pregnant lady and then give her lip when she said something about it, I’d cuff ’em right in the ear (this happened to me at the public pool when I was pregnant.)  The other day I saw a lady (and I use the term loosely) allowing her dog to shit in a common public area.  When I asked her if she planned to pick it up (she had no bag or anything with her) she gave me a raft of shit (no pun intended.)  How hard is it to understand that I don’t need my small child trampling through your dog’s mess?  Is it untoward for me to request she pick up after the nasty little beast?  This woman, this huge she-beast who lives with her adult daughter on HUD assistance had the nerve to tell me I needed to get a job!  All because I called her out on something she knew was wrong in the first place.

Apparently, as there are no consequences for being an asshole (you’d get sued for knocking the teeth out of someone being disrespectful to you now,) people feel free to throw courtesy right out the window.

Seriously, ignorance aside (even though it drives me absolutely batshit,) I fear for my child in this world.  It makes me want to move my family to some isolated mountain in Montana or something.

Anyway, sorry if I sound preachy.  This stuff really irks the piss out of me, and I pretty much feel helpless to do anything to change the majority of it.  I can teach my kids solid values and responsibility, but there’s no way for me to force the rest of the world to act like civilized human beings.  I just have to arm my kid with knowledge and then hope for the best.  And that scares the crap out of me.

English: McDonalds' sign in Harlem.

By the way, while we’re talking about “responsibility,” it’s not McDonald’s fault that you’re fat.

The Hunger Games: Hungry for More?

*a review of Catching Fire, this article may contain possible spoilers for this novel and the first novel, The Hunger Games

So, pursuant to my last entry, I just finished reading the second installment in the Hunger Games series (okay, I don’t know if that’s what the series is actuallycalled, but by now, everyone who isn’t living under a rock has probably at least seen that name on a book or movie poster somewhere.)

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