In the last ten years, school violence has become an increasing problem in more and more areas. By that, I mean more white people have been victims of school violence recently. But that statistic aside, what can be done to curve school violence? A better question is how do you make school safer? This week, the Bush Administration held a conference to get people to come up with ideas to do just that. It wasn't very productive. And one of the reasons is stereotypes.
Since 1997, parents, law makers, and law enforcement have been trying to come up with a profile for a school shooter. They won't tell you they have, but it is a fact. Ask school officials if they have a checklist to identify "at risk" students and they will usually tell you "yes." The problem with these profiles is that they are vague and inaccurate. Just looking at one could label a lot of kids "at risk." Many school then over react and impose strict rules that only alienate the students more. An increase strictness in dress code to include body piercings or music group T-shirts is going a bit too far. But it looks good in front of the parents and school districts like that.
Even though these profiles don't work, they were brought up today in Bush's conference. One expert said an important part of making schools safer is, "really having good intelligence." It makes it sound like we are fighting a war against our kids. We aren't and it shouldn't be treated as such. Another guest said better communication is the key. This I do agree with. But a real plan of action for a school should start at home.
All school should have a crisis management plan and includes police officers as security. I think we can deal with having cops at the schools. It won't be a problem if we use their services correctly. Second, schools must stop profiling students but at the same time practice zero-tolerance for bad behavior. Instead of focusing on what a student looks like or who his friends are, schools should focus on actual behavior. By ridding the school of bad behavior with zero-tolerance, the school will be safer.
There is no simple solution to this. Using a conference on school shootings as a campaign stop is simply inexcusable. The fact that Bush really thinks one conference is enough speakes volumes about what he really thinks of domestic issues. Bush doesn't care about education. He proves that on days like today. Local government and parents need to take the initiative on this one. Let's not wait for the federal government to solve this one. They can't and they won't.