There are no easy solutions
I think it’s very sad that teenagers, children and even young adults are having such a hard time with life or they dislike someone sooo much that violence is the answer.
I don’t blame the schools for not stopping the violence because there are A LOT of students—thousands—and they can’t go checking each and every student. But something needs to be done about school safety does. It’s very sad.
Destiny Jackson, 14, Mayfair HS
As teens we should be free to express ourselves and figure out who we are
When I heard about the shooting at Oxnard, I was speechless. A child was killed for being simply being who he was. Experimenting with different things is part of growing up and self discovery, but he never found out who he was. This cruel act of premeditated murder was ruthless. I was shocked at how a junior high student even had the mind and desire to commit such a crime. When you’re at that age, does it even matter how people present themselves? And how is it to the point that expressing your individual styles and tastes costs a life? It really scares me, thinking that we live in a society that your external layer creates how others see you as. I don’t want to walk down a street thinking that I need to hide something unique about myself, in order to pass as “normal” nor do I want to be afraid to go to school dressed the way I want. What even is considered normal? The ideal student in everyone’s mind is different, which makes everyone unusual in their own ways. The student that was killed was only trying to fit in his definition of a student and was ultimately punished for that. Is that fair that he had to pay for what all of us are doing? I feel like this obviously has gone over the line, especially since I’m a student and I believe in expressing myself the way I want. The beauty of LA is the wide range of diversity and I don’t want to see that disappear.
Michelle Wong, 17, San Gabriel HS
Schools aren’t as safe as they should be, especially for gay/lesbian students
School shootings and teenage acts of violence are becoming common. The thought of safety in school is absent, especially with recent headlines. In the past week, violence has come to a new high. School, a place of education, is now a war ground. A 15 -year-old boy was shot and killed in his middle school because he was gay and his shooter is now being tried as an adult.
In the past month, the Gay Straight Alliance at my school has been talking about SB777, which was petitioned by local churches in San Gabriel Valley. SB777 would protect students from discrimination for various reasons including sexual orientation. It was aimed to prevent violence and harassment since many kids claim they’ve been harassed because they are or others think they are gay/lesbian.
My psychology teacher mentioned to the class that school shootings shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, that Columbine was our wake up call. Sometimes I’m in denial of the world we live in because it’s easier to pretend these acts of violence don’t happen than to realize we live in a dangerous world filled with hatred and violence. Maybe what the world needs is love.
Amanda Ly, 16, Mark Keppel HS
Clubs promoting friendship between gay students and straight students can make a difference
I think that a good way to stop violence and create a better, more inviting environment for LGBTQ teens is to create or join a Gay- Straight Alliance (GSA). My school is small and this is the first year we’ve had a GSA. I am very proud to be a member because I have learned so much. I have learned about the struggles, and difficulties LGBTQ teens have to face and their courage in facing them. Because of this, I understand their situation and would never do anything to hurt them. And I would help stop others from emotionally or physically hurting them.
To get the entire school involved with the club, we did a Valentine’s Day activity called "Get Hitched."Anyone could marry whoever they wanted and however many people they wanted. A lot of us thought that a lot of people would think that having marriages was stupid because it wasn’t real, but there was a huge turn out! People were lining up the second the lunch bell rang and when the ceremonies began, people even began to cut! There was a happy, excited mob around the aisle and there weren’t any rules.
We raised money for our club while we were telling students about the existence of our school’s GSA. The students in the school really liked the activity and it showed that if clubs like the GSA reach out to the school, the school will also reach out to them and be great allies, even though they are not members of the club.
Since my school is small, almost everyone gets along and supports each other. If there were more high school GSA clubs that made school activities, I’m sure big high schools will be able to see that despite what the sexual orientation others may be, everyone is the same—all have emotions and get hurt even though the pain doesn’t come through fists—people will be more empathetic.
Helen Trejo, 17, Downtown Magnets HS
Too much violence and too many guns
I’m horrified about all the death and violence occuring in schools, especially in the last week. Since I haven’t watched the news or read the paper in some time, I found out about this week’s tragedies from people at school.
One of my teachers dedicated most of the class period today to discuss what’s been going on. Almost everyone in my class thought that government should control who gets to own guns, and I agree with them. There should be a strictly enforced gun licensing system, and maybe guns could be more expensive also. It’s ridiculous that children and any willing adults can get hold of deadly weapons. I’m all for personal freedom—until it threatens the lives of others.
I’m astounded by how much school violence has increased in the past few years. Only 10 months ago, the biggest college shooting in the United States occurred at Virginia Tech, which seems to have inspired school snipers rather than wake them up to the harshness of aggression given too much power.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where violence is encouraged. Through film, video games, and even music, we’re being told that it’s cool to be cruel. To upset youth with inadequate support systems, this marketing message seems like a quick solution to life’s inevitable miseries. Mere decades ago, people didn’t have gory images in their minds as incessantly as our generation does, so they didn’t casually resort to lethal means of handling emotion. Gun laws, a reasonable education budget, and increased awareness about psychology (and access to therapy) could disrupt this change in culture. Too much is at risk otherwise.
Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 16, Beverly Hills HS