Adolescent Alienated And Armed Essay Research Paper

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Adolescent Alienated And Armed Essay, Research Paper In 1940, public school teachers ranked the top seven disciplinary problems at public schools. They were talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the hall, cutting in line, dress code violations, and littering. By 1990, the top seven disciplinary problems had changed somewhat. They were now drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault (Harris 20). Just pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news. You may question whether America’s schools are still safe places for children. The recent spree of school shootings is dominating headlines nationwide and sending policy makers, parents, teachers and other concerned citizens into a tailspin. Since October, incidents of school

shootings by students, some as young as 10, have occurred at sickeningly regular intervals across the country. From Pearl, Miss., to Jonesboro, Ark., to Fayetteville, Tenn., children have lost their lives to angry, upset gun-toting classmates. For example in Springfield, Ore., a 15-year old walked into his high school cafeteria and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, the shootings left two students dead and dozens more hospitalized. After determining the identity of the shooter, police found the student’s parents slain in their home, apparently by their son. Most of the victims were targeted randomly. The suspects were adolescent, alienated and armed. But experts warn that parallels between the shootings are more complicated (Bowles). The suspected shooters may be linked

not so much by circumstances as a common mentality. “It would be one thing if these kids had happened to be carrying weapons to school and opened fire during a fight,” says criminologist Gary Goldman, author of the book Books and Bullets: Violence in the Public Schools. “But these attacks were planned. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing. These boys had a chance to think things over. And calmly, coolly, they decided to take care of matters with pistols and rifles.” In each case, the suspected shooters apparently had trouble adjusting socially. (Ibid) In the Pearl and Jonesboro slayings, police say, two of the three suspects were distraught after being jilted by girls. They and the suspected Paducah shooter also were associated with fringe groups at school. Luke

Woodham, 16, the Pearl High School senior accused of stabbing his mother to death and fatally shooting two students in October, had formed a morose circle called “The Group,” which based itself on violent and anti-Christian writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Michael Corneal, 14, who was charged in December with firing on fellow students in a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, hung out with a small band of students who were fascinated with the occult, school officials and police say. (Ibid) And one of the two suspects in the Jonesboro slayings, Mitchell Johnson, 13, had boasted of joining a gang. More ominously, the suspects in all three cases warned of violence to come (Zimring 48). Woodham, police and students say, wrote and passed around a

“manifesto” before the spree. In it, he wrote “murder is not weak and slow-witted. Murder is gutsy and daring.” Corneal, classmates later told authorities, warned several students three days before the rampage that “something big is going to happen.” Students at Jonesboro’s Westside Middle School recall Johnson telling several of them the day before the slayings that he “had a lot of killing to do,” and that they would learn the next day “whether you live or die,” according to Associated Press reports. In each case, classmates said they did not report the incidents because they did not take them seriously. “Every kid spouts off now and then,” Houston child psychologist Pamela Harrison says. “That’s always been the case. What’s different now is the