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Point of View: We all share blame for school shootings

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The latest campus killings, especially the one at Santana High School in San Diego, has sent a shock wave across the nation. When and how can we stop such a violence from happening again before more young people get killed? There is no easy solution to this intricate problem. This type of senseless shooting is likely to occur more often unless parents, government and school officials take note of the seriousness of the situation.

Ours is the most civilized society. Yet, teens, even kids under 10, often resort to guns to vent their rage upon their peers or the establishment or use it as a way of retaliation. This is indeed a serious problem, and I don’t think we can find its parallel in any other industrial country.

Who is to blame? Well, gun makers, Hollywood, society, TV shows, peer pressure, schools and parents should all share the blame. Parents should take a greater responsibility than others for their children’s violent behavior and action at school.

But what makes the big difference between the school fistfights in past years, and lethal shootings today, is that guns are readily available. More households have guns than ever before. It seems the fight will never end between the National Rifle Association and its opponents.

And, violent programs are omnipresent. Kids have easy access these days to games and shows featuring shootings, stabbings, maiming, and other vicious crimes through videos, movies, TV and, of course, the Internet. There’s little doubt that these have a heinous effect on young minds, especially when there’s little parental supervision, and especially on those with tendencies toward disruptive behavior, anyway.

Responsible parents must curb their children from watching those shows and tell them the horrible consequences. More importantly, parents need to make sure their children have no access to any firearms at home and check their tote bags to see if there is any object that can kill. Air guns and BB guns also are available at stores on the block. Both look like real things and scare people. Besides, a BB guns can hurt people at a short range. Some teenagers even use e-mail to threaten people.

Parents should ask themselves what kind of examples they have set for their kids to follow. It’s morally wrong for parents to devote their leisure time to pursuing their own interest and fail to provide children with proper guidance. Unfortunately, we have too many single-parent families. Kids are prone to go astray for lack of attention and supervision. A family filled with love is perhaps the only key to a harmonious society.

It seems school shooting is contagious. There have been a lot of copycats since April 20, 1999, when 13 people were killed and scores injured at a shooting spree by two former students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. After that, schools have adopted zero-tolerance strategy toward violence. But it still happens — in California, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Wisconsin — and just last week, right here, on the campus of St. John’s University.

A loaded gun recently was found in a purse of a 5-year-old girl at a kindergarten in St. Paul, Minn. Police and school authorities were unsure if she carried it unknowingly to school or on purpose. It was said her grandfather might have put it into a purse in a room the two share. Either way, the carelessness of the adult is frightening.

Earlier, a 14-year-old girl at a parochial school in Williamsport, Pa., was accused of shooting at a 13-year-old bully who apparently threatened an Asian girl. The revolver she used at the alleged shooting belongs to her father.

Despite the latest tragedy at Santana High, where two students were killed and 13 injured, the violent deaths on campuses have decreased each year, according to the USA Today. From 1992 to 1999, the deaths dropped almost 70 percent.

The National School Security Center provides the following figures:

Fifty-four students were killed in 1992-93; 53 in 1993-94; 21 in 1994-95; 36 in 1995-96; 25, in 1996-97; 44 in 1997-98; 30 in 1998-99; and 16 in 1999-2000.

Let’s hope the figure drops to zero by next year.

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