Violence in our schools has always been a problem, now more than ever before. Each year many students are injured and some are even killed during so-called ‘school-yard brawls. ‘; In fact, more than 1,000 students are seriously injured per year during school violence in California alone. (http://www. geocities. com/area51/stats/7403. html) In most cases of serious injury, weapons were involved, including common school supplies such as pencils and pens.
Historically, the school systems response to possession of weapons on campus has been at the very least confiscation of said weapons and suspension of the possessor, more commonly expulsion of the possessor and occasionally the bringing of criminal charges to bear. The use of weapons to do violence has had much the same results. In some schools, the students pass through a metal detector and/or are searched for weapons upon a regular basis. (Ch. 4 news at 6:00), However, when the weapons being used are common school supplies, what can one do?
The number of students injured by their classmates with common school supplies such as pencils and pens are on the rise. A student carrying a gun or a knife is often busted before having an opportunity to use said weapon, one with a pencil on the other hand, they run free until they seriously injure or even possibly kill someone with the pencil. Our current policy is to deal with the student after they commit the crime, as far as stabbing with pencils go anyway, treating them as though they had used any other weapon.
It is my belief that something can be done to prevent, or at least minimize the number of incidents involving the use of pencils as ‘stealth’; weapons in our classrooms. Although we do not need to worry about lead poisoning from pencils, (pencil lead is really graphite), (From graphite to pencil, Ali Mitgutsch, 1985) when misused a pencil is a deadly weapon, one far worse than a pocketknife. One obvious alternative, which would thrill many teachers, would be to replace pens, pencils, paper, and the like with computer systems of one sort or another.
Estimations have been made that computer systems at the school could be provided for as little as $800 per student including Internet access and basic maintenance. (‘Computing Edge’;, John Beecham, 1997) This approach would have many advantages, including the fact that our schools would be releasing children with at least a basic knowledge of how to operate a computer system, this in turn would make it much easier to learn to operate other, more complicated and more advanced systems, which would give our students needed job skills in today’s information age.
This would benefit the computer industry both in that demand for computers would increase and the students graduating from high school would be more computer literate, thus they would be more likely to buy computers as adults, and they would be better able to operate computer systems on the job. This would in turn encourage businesses to buy more computers, which would benefit the computer industry further, bringing in more taxes, which would mean more money for the school system, which would allow it to get more computers, and so on and so forth.
A much cheaper alternative would be to greatly increase the penalty for the use of weapons in school. If a much heftier fine and/or jail sentence were attached to being convicted of assault with a weapon upon school grounds, fewer people would commit the crime. Furthermore, revenue brought in by the fines could be used to fund a greater security presence upon the campus. This is of course a much more general solution, one which would most likely cut down upon violence on campus in general.
Although many would say that students are children and thus cannot properly understand the consequences of their actions, thereby claiming that punishment for them should be mad less severe, not more, students at the highschool level are practically adults, they are making decisions which will affect the rest of their lives, at that level of education, they must learn to deal with the consequences of their actions.
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