fighting for our children
by J.C Phillips
The month of October saw a rash of school shootings in towns across the country. The most shocking of course was the massacre of five Amish girls in a Pennsylvania school house. This slaughter of innocence ignited outrage, as it should have. Responses ranged from calls from gun control advocates for more stringent gun control laws to the demands of some for more security in our nation’s schools.
Like all parents, I am concerned about the safety of my children. Still, we might do well to remember that the shootings at Columbine occurred after the Brady amendment and the most recent killings in Pennsylvania happened after the assault weapons ban.
Nor do I think the answer is to make our schools look like prisons replete with metal detectors and armed guards that stroll the hallways. I am of the opinion that when our schools begin to look like prisons, the children inside will begin to behave like prisoners.
A school district in Burlenson, Texas has decided to take a different approach and has begun teaching teachers and students to fight back against gunmen.
Along with standard emergency procedures, Response Options, the company hired to provide the training teaches students and teachers to swarm an attacker throwing everyday classroom objects like paperback books and calculators at the attacker. The idea is to disable or distract the attacker so that he can be restrained and disarmed. Although the idea has some merit, the program is controversial. Critics contend that the program is untested and may unnecessarily put children in harm’s way.
As much as I sympathize with the Berlenson School administration, I think the training by response options, like calls for gun control and increased security, amounts to a Band-Aid applied to a cancer. Frankly, the entire discussion baffles me. I am old school, you see. When I was coming up, kids called each other names and talked about each others’ mothers. Sure, there were plenty of black eyes and bruises doled out, but I don’t think it ever occurred to anyone to bring a gun to school and kill all one’s classmates.
The crisis of violence in our schools is much more fundamental than a lack of gun control or need for hyper security on our secondary campuses. The crisis we are facing is one of spirit.
And this crisis of spirit is not just evidenced in random school shootings. It is the same sickness of soul that causes children to drive through neighborhoods shooting other children because of the color shirt they are wearing, and the same broken soul that is the cause for the hundreds of thousands of incidents of school violence every year that do not make the headlines. This epidemic did not spring from nothing, it is the culmination of a series of cultural shifts – the spurning of traditional institutions and mores -- that have effectively diminished the value of life, cheapened family and belittled faith.
For some it sounds trite to talk about parental involvement in the face of such tragedy, but at whose feet are we to rest the responsibility? It is parents that have the responsibility to impart the sanctity of life, the value of faith and the primacy of family and civil behavior to children. Alas, it is also parents that allow children’s brains to grow numb with video games and reality television. It is parents that reinforce the lesson that choice trumps life. It is parents that teach their children that God does not exist.
And it is parents that forget that if you are not raising your child someone else is and you might not like what it is they have to teach.
Like the school district in Berlenson, I think it is time to fight back. I am not convinced that the methods of Response Options are the answer. However, there is not a doubt in my mind that we must begin to battle armed with the only thing capable of renewing a broken spirit.