It was the week before spring break. Alex Orange, a popular student and football player at West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, was looking forward to spending time with his dad in Tennessee. But that Friday, he decided to stop by a house party being held by the Debonairs, a high school social club. It had been billed as a “Stop the Violence Party.” Word of the party spread. School would be out soon and students were ready to celebrate. More than two hundred teenagers were dancing, talking and having fun, when some students from a rival high school showed up looking for trouble. They began beating up people with baseball bats. Then Alex saw a man pull out a gun. He grabbed it, but when he lost his grip, the man pointed the gun at him and fired, blasting a hole in his chest. People began to run.
Unfortunately, what happened to Alex Orange is not unusual. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for children between the ages of ten and eighteen. And it is the leading killer of African Americans, both male and female, between 14 and 25 (Day 8). There is definitely a problem with school violence today. The last three years have shown us that violence in our schools society is more common today then ever before. People are at the greatest risk of being crime victims during their teenage years. It is not surprising, then that most of these crimes take place in schools. In the time it took you to read to this point, fifteen school crimes were committed. A school crime occurs every 6 seconds (Day 10).
There are many factors that influence and cause violence in schools but the major ones would have to be hatred, caused by racial prejudices or bullying within the school, effects of violence in media on children and the home life of students.
Sometimes school violence stems not from a disagreement between students, but from hatred. Hatred not of what someone does but of what someone is. These incidents are referred to as “hate crimes” because they stem from a hatred of an entire race or ethnic group. According to one survey thirty-four percent of school violence is of a racial or ethnic nature (Day 48). Prejudice is often the result of lack of experience with members of another group. In diverse communities, people grow up knowing members of other groups as individuals, not as faceless stereotypes. Racially mixed communities actually have the lowest levels of racial prejudice.
Bullying. It is a familiar story: one kid picking on another for being fat, wearing glasses, or talking funny. This may sound typical but, researchers say it is not accurate. Although victims of bullying may be younger and weaker than the bully, they are not necessarily students who are just different. Bullying has been defined as physical or psychological abuse towards individuals who are not able to defend themselves. It is widespread. In a study of fourth through ninth graders, ninety percent reported being bullied. The most likely victims of bullying are people who are anxious, insecure, cautious, sensitive and quiet. These individuals have poor opinions of themselves and feel stupid, ashamed or unattractive. Most bullies are boys, but girls can be bullies as well.
Many school officials feel that the media play a major role in the increase in school violence. Television programs, movies, video games and even music lyrics are often filled with violent images, violent heroes, and violent acts. Some people think that this has led to an increased acceptance of violence as a way to solve problems. Children see violence in movies and on TV with no ethical context. It is exciting and satisfying to see heroes live and villains die. Nobody ends up in a wheelchair or hospital bed and children may not realize that death is permanent, unalterable, final and tragic (Day 23).
Violent video games can also lead children to committing acts of violence against other children and adults. A child who plays violent video games will resort to violence more easily when faced with a problem than a child who has never been exposed