I ran across an interesting article a couple of days ago. It’s written by George Poague for The Leaf-Chronicle, a small newspaper out of Clarksville, TN. I had been thumbing through various Op Ed/Blog indexes looking for something when the title caught my eye. It’s a good piece and I wanted to share it with you guys:
Pay attention to the epidemic of public school shootings
Small towns becoming as violent as the inner cities.
Welcome to the Benumbed States of America.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some horrendous events in the news. And the public and media have largely shrugged them off.
In Wisconsin, a 15-year-old reportedly shot his principal to death. In Colorado, a psycho shot several high school students, killing one, and sexually assaulted some female captives. North of the border in Montreal, a wacko went on a rampage with his gun at a college.
Then in Pennsylvania, a few days ago, a madman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and killed five girls before turning a gun on himself.
Can you remember 1999? Seven years ago: The Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. It was on all the front pages. It provided the plot for a Michael Moore film. For a while, we all paid attention to violence in our schools. Then we got jaded and lost interest.
Hardly a day goes by when our wire services don’t carry a story about some violent act at a North American school. It’s an epidemic, and it’s only gotten worse since Columbine.
But you won’t read much about it in our media. It appears we’re more interested in providing 24/7 coverage of the antics of Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith and Jessica Simpson. Or in following the escapades of arrogant rappers and overpaid athletes. We definitely don’t want to write in-depth stories and multi-part series about screwed-up kids and the screwed-up society that produces them. That might indict the people who hold positions of power in our cities and states.
Our media typically depict young people as hip, cool, sexy hedonists whose lives amount to one big happy party. Unfortunately, that’s a stupid and shallow depiction.
Want to hear the pain of young people? Tune in to “Dawson McAllister Live,” airing Sundays from 10 p.m. to midnight at 107.5 The River FM. This is a call-in show where people in their teens and early 20s talk about their problems. Although often described as a “Christian-based” show, I’ve never heard any Bible thumping on it.
I’m sure some of these kids’ stories are exaggerated or invented, but others are undoubtedly real â€” if only because these hurt, vulnerable young people are such a departure from the way they’ve been taught to behave by the media. You won’t find an assertive, butt-kicking Buffy Summers here. These are messed-up kids with messed-up parents.
And it seems the parents bear much blame. Listening to kids talking about parents who are addicted to booze, drugs, gambling or serial mates can be depressing. But knowing how self-absorbed so many members of my generation are, I’m sure there’s some truth here.
Many of these recent shootings can’t be blamed on kids gone bad. Notice how many of them involve deranged adults coming to schools and targeting students. What does that say about our society and its values?
One thing we might explore is why so many of these violent crimes take place in small towns, rural areas and “exurbs.” Remember the Dover school bus shooting? We used to regard the big city â€” in particular, the crack-ridden inner city â€” as a scary, dangerous place. But now we have massacres in seemingly safe, “all-American” places where people go to church, respect the flag, attend high school football games and increasingly vote Republican.
There’s no doubt rural America is becoming more conservative and isolated from mainstream America. It’s also a place where gun ownership is revered and easy access to guns is considered a birthright. But people may not have access to affordable mental health care.
Brian Mann argues in his new book, “Welcome to the Homeland,” that the real division is not between “red states” and “blue states,” but within the states â€” between urban and rural communities. You could see this is in “red” Tennessee, where Memphis and Nashville voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, while smaller cities went for George W. Bush in both elections.
The pattern was repeated across the country. Kerry did worse in rural areas than Gore had, and Gore did worse than Bill Clinton had in 1992 and 1996. The big cities stayed loyal to Democrats.
I’m not implying that voting Republican will turn you into a mass murderer. That would be as ridiculous as Newt Gingrich blaming Democrats for Susan Smith drowning her children.
But we need to ask some questions: Just what sort of values are people learning in our small towns today? And why do so many feel compelled to act our their violent fantasies?
Maybe an investigative journalist like Bob Woodward should try to answer these questions. They seem far more pressing than the latest Beltway scandal.
Ya know what folks? He’s right about a lot of things.
School is a scary place to be for kids today. I worry about Jessie every day. Every time I hear about violence in a school, I have to drive the images of something like that happening in our small community out of my mind … but it could easily happen. I’ve noticed a change in kids. Many today are growing up without parental guidance, a sense of morals, or even decency.
So who’s to blame? First and foremost: We are — the parents. We can attempt to blame any outside source we want, but education starts in the home, long before children are sent off to school. Parents are responsible for looking out for their children and ensuring their safety and physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Not the media, not the movie industry, not video game makers, not law makers, not gun manufacturers, not Oprah, not Ozzy Osbourne or Marilyn Manson, not Paris Hilton or Nicole Ritchie. Need I go on?
We wouldn’t allow our children to play with a flamethrower … no, that’s just crazy. But many of our children are allowed to watch television without supervision. Many are allowed to surf the internet without parental guidance. Now, Jim and I are busy parents, I realize that not all parents have the luxury of watching their kids every moment of every day. Neither can we, but we take the time to keep a good eye out for Jessie when she spends time at our house. She doesn’t play anything on the computer or XBox that we haven’t already checked out and approved beforehand. We don’t let her watch anything that we haven’t already seen before or (in the case of cartoons) would not normally object to. She’s not allowed on the Internet unsupervised AT ALL. Many parents today are too self-involved to look out for their children, and many innocents are getting in the crossfire resulting from that.
I’ve actually spoken to parents in our community before who would (and much to my horror) allow their 9 year old to use his own judgment as to what she was watching on TV was “appropriate” or not. This is also the same kid who was teaching Jessie and the other kids swear words in first grade!!
I’m often appalled at the lack of manners many kids today have. I’m up at Jessie’s school all the time, and there are days where it’s rare that I hear a “Yes, ma’am / No, ma’am” or “Yes, sir / No, sir” come out of a kid’s mouth. Jessie’s lucky in that she knows better; Jim and I have tried our best to instill some manners and sense of good behavior in her, and her mother has done the same. But many kids today just aren’t taught the same lessons that we learned. Many don’t respect their teachers because their parents never taught them to do so. And then those parents wonder why their kids act up in school and grow up to be disrespectful brats.
It’s a scary trend, folks. The Degeneracy of America … it’s spreading.