Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Has Happened to School Safety? Are We in an Age of Indifference?

The horrific events of last Friday hit us hard in a most vulnerable spot--our children. I've had many years of experience, both as a classroom teacher and as an art teacher working with children and adults of all ages. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to bring complete devastation to young children and their families.

When I first started teaching, there was no safer place than a school room. My first year as a classroom teacher was in first grade. That year, the school was overflowing with students, so the six first grade teachers taught in two shifts in the small Sunday School rooms of the church next door. Of course, parents were not happy with that arrangement, and their dismay forced our principal to start searching for a better alternative. He and the school board soon found a big old rural school building a few miles down the road that had been closed for a while. Six large classrooms were cleaned up, and the first grades moved there. The remainder of that school year, we were alone with the children, just the teachers without administrators or any other kind of staff except for a janitor who arrived after the children left.

Schools, even out in the country, were safe then. No one ever thought otherwise.

"Universe and Beyond" copyright MMSikes
Why aren't they now?

Some of the commentary I've heard over the weekend is thought-provoking and worrisome. Because we have a society of many people engrossed in social media, we no longer connect with one another face to face on a personal basis. In our little town, the once vibrant Kiwanis Club recently met its demise because younger people weren't interested in joining and the older members were literally dying out. One television commentator talked about the decline in church attendance--yet another place where people once socialized. Another concern mentioned often was the abundance of violent video games that have desensitized our children. Violence in television and in movies is abundant and can further desensitize our society.

In many ways, the Internet and social media have drawn us closer together, but have they also pulled us apart, leaving us in isolation before a monitor or cell phone? We text messages to one another while seated at the same dinner table with the recipients. What is that all about?

Are we now in an age of indifference to the feelings of others? Is that why bullying is more hurtful and prevalent than ever before?

What about school safety?

What about us?

--Mary Montague Sikes


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I do think we are growing more disconnected. The only way to learn how to get along with others and function in society is to interact with people.

WS Gager said...

I think a majority of the problem is how we treat those with mental issues. We pretend they don't exist. They are ineligible for help until they pose a threat to themselves or others. The only drugs available to help them, make them feel physically worse than the disease. What happened was tragic and we need to look at helping those before the psychosis makes them unreachable.
W.S. Gager on Writing

Monti said...

Yes, Alex, we need to interact in person as well as on line. Thanks for commenting.

Monti said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Wendy. Having guns easily available for those with mental health problems is a big issue. Are there more mental problems now than in years past? That appears to be the case and may relate to other issues including illegal and prescription drugs.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

It's pretty amazing that this guy could just walk in and start shooting people. But maybe he was stopped at the door and shot those who said, "Excuse me, sir." This event was so shocking that we're all kind of saying, "What happened?" There are no answers only questions.

Chuck said...

I think social media's intended consequence is also the unintended consequence. I am irritated in meetings seeing people not paying attention to the speaker because they are texting. At work I constantly have to watch my staff and their cell phones/text-umbilical cords. Even how long they are in the bathroom. When did it become that we have to know everything the second it happens?

The school tragedy in Sandy Hook, I'm afraid, has only raised the bar for the next such senario...which some lunatic is surely going to try and top. You are right, school was always the safest place as a kid.

Monti said...

Karen, thank you for commenting. Perhaps there are answers, but we don't want to hear them!

Monti said...

Chuck, besides our attachment to cell phones and other devices, I wonder if we live on the planet of war. Somewhere, out there in space, is there a planet of peace where there are no guns? Where there is no need for guns or weapons of any kind? I hope so...