Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reader's letter on school shooting lacks logic

News of the Oct. 9 Memorial Middle School shooting was spread across the nation and the world through Associated Press articles and, as usual, some people have rather simplistic ideas of how to prevent school shootings.

A letter to the editor in the Hi-Desert Star in Yucca Valley, Calif., insists that if Memorial Middle School had the Ten Commandments posted prominently the incident probably would not have happened:

If the Ten Commandments were prominently displayed in this young man's school in years past, he most certainly would have read each one. This includes the one that reads "Thou shall not kill."

Now let me get this straight. If this kid saw "Thou Shalt Not Kill," he would have left his guns at home, when he did not pay any attention to the signs which are prominently placed at every Joplin school saying firearms are not allowed in the building?

While I have written numerous times about the kneejerk reaction of some people to allowing any kind of religion in the schools, this is a different matter altogether. School shootings are not taking place because of the removal of God from the schools and as long as there are people who actually believe that simplistic suggestions like posting the Ten Commandments would make a difference, we are dooming ourselves to more such tragedies.


Anonymous said...

Years ago, the school day was opened with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. Parents, teachers, and principles would give a kid swats for misbehaving. Kids were taught right and wrong, and were disciplined. There were at least a dozen trucks in the parking lot with deer rifles in the back glass, but no one walked into a school and started shooting.

Now, it's a different world. I think what the author may have been saying (at least what I took out of it) is that we're not teaching kids right and wrong. We're certainly not showing them there is consequences for wrong behavior.

Until parents and society in general decides it's time to take responsiblity for the raising of our children and get back to teaching right and wrong, and showing there are consequences, it's not going to stop

Anonymous said...

I vividly remember the prayer, the pledge and the swatting when I attended public elementary school in Southwest MO during the mid-50's-early 60's. This is what our world was like:

Each class recited the Christian Protestant version of The Lord's Prayer every morning. Catholic students were a significant minority and when one poor soul did pass through our halls they were often identified. I can remember us holding our collective breaths during prayer,listening more than reciting, to hear if the Catholic kid said "trespasses" instead of "debts" and then laughing. Catholic girls were stereotyped as "nasty". One time when the Catholic school kids came to our school for games, we were told to watch out for them. I remember a lot of this came from kids parroting their parents, but I do not remember any teacher ever discouraging this behavior. Years later I related these stories to my mother and she remarked on the similarities to Northern Ireland.

We had a teacher who every Monday morning would go down the rows and ask for a show of hands as to who attended "Sunday School and Church" the previous day. It was a contest, and the best show of hands ultimately won a prize. Woe be it to the unchurched and non-belivers when they were identified in your row. Another teacher who routinely singled out several vulnerable students to humiliate often had the whole class march around the classroom, with her in the lead, as we sang Onward Christian Soldiers.

Discipline? Our first grade teacher sometimes let the class pick the punishment for disruptive students. A favorite was to make the offending kids stand in the front of the class while the rest of us did the kid thing with our fingers jeering "Na-Na-Na-Na-NaaNaa!" which usually brought on tears. Another teacher allowed children to take the paddle and spank other students.

When I was older when the trumpet sounded and it was pledge time it was the signal to horse around, put tacks in people's chairs and recite the pledge as slow as humanly possible to blow off class time. Patriotism? Don't think so. Bullying was also a big extra curricular activity in high school.

No gunshots fired in my schools, but there were plenty of lasting scars to go around, and too often the teachers who led and demonstrated their own versions of religion in the classroom were also enablers or even perpetrators of prejudice and were guilty of serving up unorthodox and highly questionable disciplinary practices.