Problems So Common
Sixteen-year-old Evan Ramsey would’ve had a bright future ahead of him after graduation from high school.
Yet, all was lost with one act of vengeance against those that had teased him and the authority figures that failed to offer any help.
On February 19, 1997, Evan Ramsey opened fired and ended the lives of a student, a principal, and left students wounded.
Tired of being teased for his short height, Charles Williams entered a crowded boys' bathroom in school and opened fire, killing two students and wounding thirteen.
Police retrieved seven rifles at his house, excluding the handgun he brought to school.
He was only a mere student at the age of fifteen.
Over at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, yet another tragedy broke.
On May 21, fifteen-year-old Kipland Kinkel opened fire on a crowded school cafeteria in the morning before classes began.
Two were murdered and seven others were left wounded.
When police went to his home, they found his murdered parents, whom he had killed the previous day. The house was booby-trapped with several bombs including one placed under his mother's body.
The day he murdered his parents Kinkel had been expelled for bringing a firearm to school, but he had been released by police to his father's custody. Kinkel was small in stature and had dyslexia (a learning disability). He felt inferior to his academic parents and athletic older sister. Kinkel was routinely teased at school and felt detached from his schoolmates.
(Reference from http://law.jrank.org/pages/12098/School-Violence-spring-1998.html, http://law.jrank.org/pages/12099/School-Violence-Columbine-beyond.html & http://law.jrank.org/pages/12097/School-Violence-Shootings-become-more-frequent.html)
The Road Now Taken
In John Bartram High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, metal detectors are found on school grounds and students are required to pass through them. Schools adopted a “zero tolerance” policy for weapons and should students be found in possession of them, an issue of automatic suspension and even expulsion would be given.
Some schools even went to the extent of having policemen on patrol.
These precautions are taken, but one important factor is the lack of teaching of compassion to the students. Without understanding the seriousness of the situation, students can’t relate to the matter itself.
Education doesn’t always have to be something from the textbook, presentations or group projects about school bullying can also be issued to students so that they can take the initiative to look up at the matter.
School learning journeys and field trips can be conducted to travel to places like the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the orphanage or even the old folk’s home. Students are more likely to learn better in a new environment as they are curious. They should be educated better about the least fortunate.
However, classes traveling together may often place their excitement of going out with their friends before the importance of the field trip instead. The entire trip will be wasted if this happens.
Hope of Our Future: Virtual World
Whilst the aim of the project is targeted on moral values, it does not mean that the technology is not important. On contrary, I feel that we could use the advanced technology of the future to help educate and instill compassion into the hearts of the people.
With the current technology advancements, I believe that it wouldn’t take long before devices that can virtually transport us into another digital world would be made common in the world. Virtual transportation to another ‘dimension’ is invented with the purpose of allowing users to be sunk into an instant scenario whereby they can be placed in a certain situation according to the person controlling the devices.
By using this method, we can place users into scenarios whereby they can be placed in situations that show a lack of compassion. For example, users can be made invisible as the typical day of a bullied victim being played out, watching the victim’s struggle with his/her raw and unseen emotions.
I feel that this is the best way of allowing outsiders to feel and experience what the least fortunate people go through in their live. Whether is it a physically or mentally disabled individual, a bullied or ostracized child, or even the people in the third world countries that resorts to desperate ways to go through everyday, I feel that this is a rather promising way of promoting compassion.
Hope of Our Future: Pen-Pal Project
This is a long term project that children of all ages – although preferably younger ones – could take part in. Societies and schools can work hand in hand to create a pen pal project whereby students of normal schools can have their individual pen pal, from orphanages and other societies.
Students, through these traditional methods, can interact with these least fortunate people and learn about their hardships and troubles. Eventually, when the pen pals are well acquainted, teachers can bring these students on a field trip to meet their pen pals in person. It gives them a sense of pride to know that they have helped and understood something out of their own world.
I feel that such projects can be started young. Younger students are less prone to the stress of school work. This letter writing project can also help in improving their writing too, an additional benefit.
It is evident that teenagers these days are underestimating the impact of bullying. With the increasing cases of school violence, younger victims of bullying are turning to such alternatives to sooth their raging frustration and anger.
In March 1987 in Missouri twelve-year-old Nathan Ferris, an honor student, shot the student that teased him and then himself.
Many are unable to put themselves in the shoes of others, instead choosing to turn a blind eye on those bullied, and not even offer a helping hand. Evidently, the lack of compassion of the youths these days would also influence their adulthood and the subsequent generations to come.
Measures have been taken to avoid school violence, and despite the still existing school shootouts and bullying, many schools have reported that the attempts are working.
One question that surfaces, are the measures being implemented teaching the students about the wrong in such atrocious acts?
Or are they forced to not commit such acts through punishments?
And what about those hidden heroes lurking in the shadows? Those everyday heroes that struggle to go through life with their disabilities and face the fierce critism by normal beings?
Start compassion, with you being the first.
"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too."
(Reference from http://law.jrank.org/pages/12095/School-Violence-School-shootings.html & http://www.geocities.com)