Our schoolchildren just follow examplesWhy are we shocked...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 24, 1999

Our schoolchildren just follow examples

Why are we shocked and horrified that young people in our schools use guns and bombs to express their anger at a perceived enemy? The leaders of our nation, indeed of the western world, after only a modicum of negotiation, decided that violence, destruction and killing with readily available high tech weapons was the most effective ways to deal with bad guys in the Balkans.

When will we ever learn? Spending $1 billion to train our nation's parents, teachers, students and politicians to deal nonviolently with conflict would save lives and cost much less than the many billions of dollars we now spend on prisons and wars.

But then gun and weapons dealers would have to find a new line of work. Maybe they could be retrained to be paramedics and relief workers in refugee camps or school counselors.

Phyllis S. Yingling

Baltimore

In the Colorado shooting, the news media once again rushed to the scene of yet another great American tragedy. When will they realize that they become part of that tragedy by shoving microphones in the faces of children who have just experienced the most horrific episode of their lives?

David Erb

Baltimore

I watched the grief-stricken parents in the aftermath of the Littleton disaster. I watched the stunned TV anchors who, with furrowed brow, asked how such a thing could happen.

My reaction was, "Why are we surprised?"

After all, our society has taught young people that God is dead. We have taught them that there is no right or wrong, only preferences. We have taught them that there is no absolute truth, only what works for you; that life is no longer sacred and it is acceptable to murder millions of unborn or consider the disposal of the aged and ailing; that our leader can commit perjury, lie to the American people, cheat on his wife with no consequences -- so long as the is economy booming.

Why, then, are we surprised when young people do what they want, what feels good, what meets their needs. The surprise is that it has not happened more often.

Stanley A. Smith

Millers

Shooting incidents like the one in Colorado seem to be happening with more frequency and, as a parent, I am frightened. As I watched the news reports from Colorado, the sense that something like this could happen in Carroll County became all too real.

Many have their own theories about why such incidents happen. Some will stress the cruelty of peer interaction at school, sensationalism in the news media and increased violence in movies, or perhaps the availability of weapons. For whatever reason, a higher level of violence is found acceptable every day.

As parents, we have to accept responsibility for our children.

It is our duty to know our children, to be involved in their lives, whether they appear to want it or not.

Children learn by example, not just from classes at school. Children learn kindness, empathy and understanding by watching their parents. Basic human decency is something that a child learns from the day he or she is born. So perhaps parents should ask themselves: do I treat other people with kindness and understanding, even if they are different from me?

Peggy Malcolm

Manchester

If we compare the frequency of events like the school shooting in Colorado to their frequency in other countries, or in our own nation before the current culture of violence became so pervasive, It's clear that we are in the midst of a true epidemic of violence in our schools. Our children are not safe.

What should be done to curb this epidemic? There has been much talk about how to recognize and help those individuals likely to engage in violent action. This is unrealistic. There will always be people who are mentally disturbed, have severe personality disorders or are just plain angry. It is difficult, if not impossible, to control these people's actions, and even harder to identify in advance who among them might really be dangerous.

Even if we could do so with reasonable accuracy, we believe that citizens are innocent until proven guilty. Constraining the actions of those who wear unusual clothes or who talk enthusiastically about guns and Adolf Hitler is not acceptable, either socially or legally.

We are doomed to recognizing the dangers posed by such individuals only after the fact.

However, as a nation, we must summon the moral courage to recognize that everyone can't be trusted with guns, and to greatly restrict access to guns.

Not only will this lessen the risk of death by gunshot, it may bring an end to our culture of violence, by sending a message that violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Katy L. Benjamin

Ellicott City

In the wake of the appalling Littleton school massacre, we have been subjected to the same media blatherings we hear after every school shooting: How could this tragedy be prevented? What can we do so that no one ever has to suffer like this again?

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