Opinion: School’s out … for the funerals

Matt Vroom

Matt Vroom

By Bridget Sharkey

There are many dangerous places in the world today – such as the Middle East; or shark-infested waters; or dark city streets; or the vomit-streaked sidewalk in front of C.O. Daniels.

These are places you definitely do not want to visit (even if there isn’t cover and it’s dollar-u-call-its night). Some places just are not healthy environments for young, vulnerable people.

For instance, schools. Anybody who has picked up a paper recently knows that schools have become a virtual minefield.

Hundreds of Russian students in Beslan are dead, because they came to school on a Wednesday morning in September. On Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, gunned down students in his high school. On Wednesday a man opened fire in a Detroit daycare, killing a three-year-old girl and wounding two teachers.

If things keep continuing down this path, parents are going to be the ones making their kids fake sick.

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For the kids, this might sound like a dream come true, but it also is a little disheartening to realize how much school safety has deteriorated. When I was 12 years old, the only thing I was afraid of at school was sitting by Mr. Hey-Look-At-My-Weiner or Shelly-Smells-A-Lot. I never was in fear for my life. I never looked to the door wondering if a maniac was going to come in with a pipe bomb.

Unfortunately, future generations of students will have a much different experience. The shootings at Columbine came at the end of most of our high school careers, but for this younger generation, it only was a harbinger of things to come. And while the deaths accumulate, so does the blame.

When Colorado State’s Attorney General Ken Salzaar released the findings on the Columbine deaths, the facts were less than reassuring. Both officials and teachers had ignored certain warning signs. The boys had written an essay about killing “preps;” they had shown a pipe bomb to people at their work; and they even ran a Web site that made threats against certain students. Despite the red flags, and despite their probation record, nothing was done.

Instead, there are now 13 people dead.

Future events have proven that taking away nail files and installing a few metal detectors in big-city schools is not enough. Schools still are simply not safe. Schools in Russia aren’t safe; schools in Argentina aren’t safe; and schools in Michigan and Colorado and across the United States are not safe.

However, because people view these as random isolated acts of violence, the problem is ignored. Nobody wants to live their lives in fear. Yet, the reality remains that you probably should.

At least you should if you’re 12 years old and enrolled in a public school.

Everybody is concerned about the No Child Left Behind Act. I move that we create a new program: the No Child Left Shot Act. This program would force school officials to talk to students and determine their mental well-being. This program would require troubled students to be counseled, especially if they make violent or suicidal threats. This program would keep guns and strangers out, even if it meant bulletproofed glass and barred windows.

Sure, it might not be aesthetic. It might even have a little Pink Floyd “If you don’t eat your meat you can’t have your pudding” flavor to it.

But we have to find someway to keep students safe and alive. At this rate, only the burnouts and stoners who skipped out on social studies will be left unharmed. By 2060, the kids who cut class to watch cartoons might rule the world.

Now there’s an idea. Spongebob for President, anyone?

Bridget Sharkey is a senior in LAS. Her column runs Mondays. She can be reached at [email protected].