School Violence







Violence in South Florida Schools



According to Patrick J. Kiger, a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.,
most

of the public is unaware of the rampant occurrence of violence in many
schools. Some

children are terrorized to such a degree that they suffer serious physical
injuries, even

death, which others may commit suicide to escape the torment. (Kiger 26) In a
1997

CDC survey, 8.3% of high school students carried a weapon, 5.9% carried a
gun, 4% of

students missed days of school because they felt unsafe. (Glazer 113) Some
might not

think this is a problem in schools in South Florida, but the truth is,
violence in schools

everywhere is a serious problem.

There are many possible causes for school violence. One reason could be the

increase of psychiatric drug use by students. These drugs are given for
hyperactive

children and children with learning disorders such as Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD)

and ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder). According to Kelly
Patricia

O’Meara, a reporter for Insight on the News, many of the perpetrators of
the high-profile

massacres that occurred in schools between 1996 and 1999 were taking the
psychotropic

drugs Ritalin, Prozac, or Luvox. Which according to O’Meara’s findings,
cause violent

behavior, and therefore may have played a part in causing these students to
act violently.

Since December 1996, Two hundred and twenty three children, three years old
and

younger, were diagnosed with ADHD and fifty-seven percent of these young
children

were put on psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, Prozac, Dexedrine, Aventyl,
and Syban.

Even more amazingly, thirty percent were put on two or more of these drugs. (O’Meara







51) In these early developmental years, these children may be learning
violent behavior,

which will cause them to react violently to harsh school life later on.

I had a personal experience with schools recommending Ritalin for young

students. When I went to Unity School, in Delray Beach, it was recommended by
the

school principle that I saw a psychiatrist and put on Ritalin. The
psychiatrist, on the other

hand, thought that psychiatric drugs were not necessary. My parents removed
me from

that school and at my new school we found out that many kids attending Unity
were put

on medications. Also, all the kids I knew, who were on medications in grammar
school,

had to be rehabilitated for drug use and violent behavior years later. At 18,
and even 23

years old, they are still dealing with drug abuse and violence, which may
have been

brought on by prescription drugs early in life.

Another, more controversial, possibility is that pop culture influences these

children to be violent in school. According to media reports, the infamous
Colorado high

school duo, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who murdered twelve classmates and
a

teacher, were devotees to singer Marilyn Manson, who refers to himself as a
god. Also,

in Manson’s song, “Irresponsible hate anthem,” the lyrics read “Hey,
victim, should I

black your eyes again?/Hey, victim,/You were the one who put the stick in my

hand/I am the ism, my hate’s a prism/Let’s just kill everyone and let
your God sort them

out…” The next question, of course, is what effect do songs like this
have on young

minds? According to Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, “musical training is a
more potent

instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the
inward

places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace.”
(Bennett 59)





For some, pop culture has no influence. But, for others, pop culture teaches

children that it is a “dog-eat-dog” world and they have to fight back.
Another thing pop

culture inflicts on young minds is the portrayal of cliques. Recently, more
than ever,

many movies have been produced featuring high school life. These films show
groups of

high schoolers, labeled at cool, geeks, or freaks, among other names. It also
always

shows the “uncool” kids trying to be “cool.” This pop culture image
magnifies the

pressures of the high school struggle to fit in. Still some students feel
they don’t fit it,

and never will. Any sign of this outsider status seems to be a warning sign,
in our

society. After the shootings at Colombine, schools were even reported doing
“geek

profiling,” looking for any signs of trouble, such as “not showing school
spirit.”

(Bronski 64)

Many disagree and say pop culture is not the perpetrator such as Jann S.
Wennen,

editor and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine. He says rock and roll is too
popular to

blame. So instead can we blame Oliver Stone, director of Natural Born
Killers? Yes,

this movie is violent and distasteful, but a more violent movie, Steven
Spielberg’s Saving

Private Ryan, hasn’t gotten any blame, only praise. “After all, Spielberg
is the

establishment’s favorite film maker,” according to Wennen. Adolescents
are fully

capable of distinguishing fantasy violence, from real violence. (Wennen 69)

Another possible answer is that school violence