Curbing School Violence CARROLL COUNTY

August 03, 1993

By creating a committee to study school violence, Carroll Superintendent R. Edward Shilling is tackling a subject too often swept under the rug. For many county residents, school violence occurs only in inner city schools, but the sad reality is that attacks on teachers and students are increasing in every school system. Weapons are also appearing in schools with greater frequency.

School yard bullies and playground fights are not unique to this generation of students. But the character of the violence has changed. The challenges of youth no longer consist of a couple of kids settling differences with their fists. Teachers, coaches and administrators occasionally are targets of physical assaults. And in ever-more cases, students are using knives, razors and guns.

If the study group can develop effective strategies to curb assaults and gunplay, it will have accomplished a great deal.

Violence is not the only issue this group must address. Teachers are finding that today's students do not demonstrate the proper respect for or deference to authority. Disruptive children no longer seem to worry about the consequences of their actions. Correcting these attitudes is a monumental task. We live in an age of disrespect. Educators are no longer held in high esteem; children pick this up from their parents. Our heroes are athletes, rock stars and entertainers instead of scientists, statesmen, writers, poets or artists.

Our general permissiveness has encouraged children to think that inappropriate behavior is acceptable. Television programs such as "Married with Children" reinforce boorish behavior. A generation or two ago, "Dennis the Menace" caused his neighbor, Mr. Wilson, as much trouble as, say, Bart Simpson would have, but minus the disrespect.

Many of the disruptive children come from homes where discipline is non-existent, is ineffectively administered or is misapplied. We hope this study group can develop effective methods to reach these alienated students -- and their parents.

Learning needs a secure environment, free of intimidation. When students and teachers fear for their safety, their attention is diverted from the business of education. Any attempts to curb school violence in Carroll schools before it becomes uncontrollable are most welcome.

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