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The campus of Northern Illinois University

Disturbing 911 calls on February 14, 2008 revealed a horrific scene. On the campus of Northern Illinois University, about 65 miles outside of Chicago, Illinois, gunshots could be heard as far as the dormitories. Students screaming and scrambling in the moment of pure pandemonium as a very tall and thin individual dressed in all black fired shots at what it appeared to be intended targets. So many people were trying to get away that many of them were injured by trampling in an attempt to escape the One student reports, “people were crawling on each other, trampling each other,” she said.

“As I got near the door, I got up and I started running” (Rousseau, 2007). Shots continued for over 20 minutes as the shooter, whom did not attend NIU continued to bring chaos to the campus, targeting both students and teachers alike. Ultimately, the shooter acquired 17 victims, 5 whom died including himself. The internal torment of today’s youth is seen through extreme methods of violence, of which is in need of serious observation from all facets of origin. ABSTRACT

With school violence at an all time high in all age sects, there is a dramatic requisite for examination of the rise in school violence as well as the need for school reforms that will ultimately pacify all parties enough to cause a reduction in the violence that can be seen today. Thus, the reviewed literature cause a hypothesis identification of the forever existence of a problematic school system that could be curtailed with a few modification methods to ensure the stability of its students through no tolerance bullying policies, pre-enrollment psychological assessment and current student mental maintenance.

LITERATURE REVIEW Currently, random feats of school violence have been hard hitting on today’s educational establishments, with special aggression in America’s Universities. The Massacre at Virginia Tech began with one enraged gunman whom unleashed his fury onto Virginia Tech’s Campus during the early morning hours of April 16th, 2007 and ended with 32 people fatally gunned down, thus titling the incident as most deadly in US history. Characteristics of attacks such as these stem from assailants suffering from depression and mental instability.

In addition to recent bouts of University shootouts, other methods of school violence do exist in the forms of bullying. Bulling has remained a persistent predicament in the educational system, however, contemporary bullying is proving more damaging than before. Bullying, one form of violence, usually directs the outcome of more violence that habitually ends in shooting rampages or suicide. Bullying not only has been shown to negatively effect students of high school age, but it is now problematic for primary schools as well.

As such, Kim Meyers is now mourning during the one year anniversary of her son’s death. Her son Brandon Meyers, was a then a 12 year old 5th grade student attending Voy Spears Elementary School in Lee Summit, Missouri. Kim Meyers’s youngest son’s death is the result of what she calls incessant bullying that his teachers and other administrators at Voy Spears Elementary School failed to stop. “He was teased in class on the day he died for acting depressed,” said Myers, a single parent. ‘He was screaming for help. If he had got the help he needed, he would still be alive’” (Scherzagier, 2005, para.

4-5). Moreover, a new form of bullying is beginning to emerge in the form or cyber bullying. On February 27th , 2007, 13 year old Megan Meier committed suicide after school mates conspired with another person, allegedly an adult, on Myspace. com. It is alleged that some of Megan’s classmates along with another person conquered up a hoax to play on Megan to get her to talk to a boy on Myspace. com. Once Megan fell for the bait after a month of chatting with the imaginary boy, classmates told her that he was a made up person whom she had told her deepest darkest secrets to over time.

Megan, suffering from depression and attention deficit disorder, was unable to cope with the embarrassment and hanged herself soon thereafter. Many theorists disagree as to the reasons why school themed violence is on the rise, however, most contributors involve community environment, lack of supervision and or discipline, and depression. Hoffman contests, “According to the Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher 1993, violence is more likely to occur in schools where the quality of education is poor.

Teachers and students agree that a major factor contributing to increased violence in the schools is the perception that the quality of education is not up to par. Thirty three percent of the teachers who feel their school provides only a fair or poor education have been victims of property crime, while 11 percent have been victims of acts of violence” (1996, p. 9). Whilst poor education is a link to school violence, this is also a reflection of communities as well.

Relatively speaking, suburban schools have better education while disoriented urban schools replicate those fashions from the community. Additionally, on spectators disclose, most violence observed in schools are heard but not seen. Assaults participating in bullying and fights can be observed in discrete locations such as underneath stairwells and in bathrooms. Hoffman gives explanation behind this theory, stating that “most teachers believe that violence occurs in hallways or under staircases, in the lunchroom or cafeteria, or in unattended classrooms.

Students concur that most acts of violence erupt in these places, but add the gym and locker rooms as prime sites. Students are also victimized in restrooms. Most acts of violence occur where adult supervision is minimal, or where there are large crowds of people moving to and fro. Students, especially those who have been victims, learn quickly to avoid certain areas of the school” (1996, p. 9). Random acts of violence such as fights are attributed to peer pressure and peer acceptance or aggression.

Many students report that they “were queried as to their membership in these groups or gangs often responded that they join because they want to be accepted by their peers and need to belong. Others join to feel empowered and to be respected. When there is group violence, whether against one person or many, those involved deny being personally responsible by claiming they were caught up in the frenzy of the crowd, or that they were afraid that failure to participate would result in their becoming a victim or being excluded by the group” (Hoffman, 1996, p. 10). SUGGESTIONS

Realistically, there are not any permanent solutions to America’s dramatic increase in school violence, however, many precautions can be taken in order to improve the rise. On average, most people are not overnight serial killers. Foreshadowing events and behavioral characteristics enable the predetermination of problematic and or violent behavior. “Angry loners, such as the Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung Hui, experience rage as they are isolated by their social anxiety. Hui was described as ‘shy’ by his peers and reports seem to confirm that he may have suffered from selective mutism.

Angry loners such as Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial criminal and psychopath, was referred to as “very shy” as a child by his parents. Theodore Kaczynski, the ‘Unibomber,’ would run up to his room and hide as a child when he heard visitors drive their car into his parents’ driveway. In both of these cases, characteristics of social anxiety and social avoidance evolved into serious psychiatric conditions” ( Berent, 2007). As to the Virginia Tech shootings, many warning signs were present thus proving that the incident could have been foretold or prevented.

The gunman, Cho Seung Hui, a social outcast, had been under a psychological evaluation that resulted in prohibition to buy firearms, shortly before the incident. The information provided by the psychologist could have been provided to the University as well as local vendors that could have barred his purchase of firearms and other weapons. Firstly, when analyzing this particular circumstance, the mental state of people has to be taken into account when searching for the answers to such a tragedy.

Cho Seung Hui should not have been permitted to buy firearms due to his mental state. However, the Psychologist whom performed the evaluation should have kept Cho isolated until further psychological improvement. The back and forth jargons only ends in finger pointing, however, this also provides indication in a very much need for a logical system involving organization and process. Additionally, many Universities across the country base their student selection process on those which involve academics as well as extra-curricular activities.

It is believed that the extra-curricular activities are one way of providing proof that students have a sound social structure, enabling them to work with others, however, this process does not tell much about prospective students. Many rampage shooters such as those from Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, and even Columbine High School are those from serious mental instability and inability to cope with real life situations resulting from being socially outcasts or unable to handle simple things such as failing grades.

As most Universities have counselors and Psychologist and or Psychiatrists at dispose, these services should be utilized for each prospective student in addition to existing students‘ mental maintenance. Although college is an opportunity to gain knowledge that will prepare individuals for future endeavors, the pressure that comes along with the education can be overwhelming for some, consequently ensuring the need for psychological assessments for all students. In utilizing this method of selection of prospective students and maintenance of current students, it will inevitably ensure a more stable academic infrastructure.

CONCLUSIONS In conclusion, many factors have contributed to the striking increase in the school violence such as lack of discipline and or supervision, mental instability or depression, retaliation due to bullying, and peer pressure. Although these issues are unjustifiable, when dealing with America’s youth, educational institutions should have the upper hand on these issues in order to prevent them. Students should be comfortable at school. Coming to school should be a happy occasion instead of frightful due to bullying.

In the event of bullying, faculty should be aware of any student bullying that occurs on school grounds and appropriate actions including suspension of all parties involved should occur. Various accounts of very young students have resulted in suicide in order to escape the daily hell from bullying. 5th grader Brandon Meyers committed suicide after vicious bullying at school. His mother , Kim Meyers says that Brandon was bullied on the day of his suicide and teachers and faculty did nothing to stop it. Suicide currently is the leading result due to in school bullying and cyber bullying.

Suicide is one of the factors that cause students to go over the edge, however, other students can become enraged and go on shooting rampages like those seen at Columbine Highs school and Virginia Tech. Shooting rampages such as those are an end result to social instability and or mental illness that currently effects many students attending Universities across the nation. Some teens have even admitted to starting fights as a result of peer pressure and acceptance in order to be accepted and to prevent incidences like fights from happening to themselves.

However many causes of the violence that can been seen today, there are many methods that can be utilized to stop the increase as well. In cases of mental instability or depression, before being accepted into educational institutes such as Universities and Colleges, students should undergo psychological assessments and current students attending these facilities should undergo mental maintenance to ensure a state of mental preparedness for difficult situations such as failing grades and lack of social integration within the academic community.

Alongside with faculty and predetermined statures, the ability to lower the increase in school violence will be able to become a reality at once.


Berent, J. (2007). Reflections on the Virginia Tech Shooting: Dynamics Which Drive Angry Loners and School Violence. Market Wire, 12, Retrieved February 22, 2008 from http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_pwwi/is_200704/ai_n1901086 Hoffman, A. M. (Ed. ). (1996). Schools, Violence, and Society.

Westport, CT:Praeger. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=27253440 Rousseau, C. (2007, February 15). N. Illinois gunman kills 5 and himself. Discreet News, 22, Retrieved February 22, 2008 from http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20080215/ai_n21416882 Scherzagier, A. (2008). Parents Blame Bullies for 5th-Grade Suicide. Retrieved February 22, 2008 from http://abcnews. go. com/US/wireStory? id=4139504

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