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After Columbine

After Columbine

The April 1999 horrific shooting at Columbine High School left a permanent, mournful impression on my mind. Ever since, I've dedicated time to document facts and advocate action. This article concentrates on felony crime involving teenagers. I remember seeing a young, pretty blonde girl who had sustained severe injuries. She was recovering from broken ribs and a broken leg. She hobbled around on crutches at her graduation ceremony from Harrison Grade School, in Wonder Lake, Illinois. We were chilled as teachers and students looked the other way, with a pale-grey appearance of guilt, during the June 6, 2004 ceremony. The incident, according to my source, involved a hit-and-run. A reliable informant alleged the girl was set-up. Authorities said there are two factions of youth in town, both in their teens. Investigators believe the girl was pushed in front of a vehicle driven by one of the "hillbilly" gang members. She was attack because of the sport clothes she wore and her involvement with a boy who shared his time with another girl. Soon later, another crime in Wonder Lake: Witnesses saw a brutal beating. A "redneck" was battered with a baseball bat. Could it be revenge? Yes. The victim survived but now has a metal plate in his head. He lost hearing in one ear. Six months later we have a killing on the streets of Kane County, a male, beaten with a beer bottle, during what I can call a mob action, over a girl. The reports of school-age children dying at the hands of their peers, continues. On February 21, 2005, Channel 2 in Chicago reported a teen was purposely run over with an automobile at Mann Park, another example of violence in the streets. Another month went by and the ten o'clock news keeps me informed about the unbelievable. The date was March 21, 2005. The information is sketchy, but a heavy-hearted, Minnesota official is slowly telling the news anchor "... as many as ten are dead and seven wounded by a sixteen-year-old student." The young male killed his grandfather and the grandfather'spanion before the grisly attack at his school in Red Lake, Minnesota. The youth had a few of his grandfathers' weapons, weapons owned by the retired police official of thirty-six years. The grandson did not allow a retirement for Gramps. The next days' reports, confirmed the teen smiled and asked a fellow student "Do you believe in God?" then shot. Seven people, including a teacher and a security guard, died. Seven were in the hospital with gun shot wounds. The downcast FBI agent said the sixteen year-old acted alone, thenmitted suicide. The word profile has different implications for people. After all, you usually take a stand based on where you sit. A Daily Herald article by staff writer Stacy St. Clair noted: "Suburban educators learned several lessons from the many school shootings in the 1990s. They learned to identify at-risk students and confront bullies. They learned to bolster security to make their schools safer. And, they learned, no matter what they did, nothing could guarantee another Columbine shooting from occurring in their building." In April 2006, we saw kids in Kansas plan a shoot-out at their school. The boys announced their intentions on a free Web Page, dedicated tomunications between teenagers. They posted their plan on MySpace. A teen advised authorities of the posting who then confirmed the information and stopped them. On April 23, 2006, in Fairbanks, Alaska, six students were held over in a "plot to kill" at a middle school. That was followed by the September 27, 2006 Channel 7 news report detailing the behavior of a gunman entering a Bailey, Colorado, High School at 4 pm shot at the ceiling, then held five hostages. Two days latter a student shoots a principal with one of several guns brought into the building in Cazenovia, Wisconsin. During the attack one hostage was killed, then the shooter's suicide. A note was found. The year 2007 started with a one-on-one shooting at point blank range in Tacoma, Washington on January 4th. Eyewitnesses told of a six-foot tall young-man, wearing an ammo jacket, with an appearance of a lack of focus, but a resolve to kill. CNN, afterward, interviewed the captured high school killer, now in jail, who told of constant teasing, being beat up, spat at, and repeated name-calling. It took him two weeks to build up the courage and shot his targets. We haven't learned enough since newspapers reported early teen deaths in April 1891. Our educational system was put on notice when James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of male students in the playground of St. Mary's school in Newburgh, New York. Or, the May 18, 1927 event when school board member, Andrew Kehoe detonated his shrapnel filled vehicle outside of a Bath, Michigan school. The bombing constituted the deadliest, most hideous act of mass murder in a school in U. S. history; forty-five are dead with fifty-eight being injured. There have been many more teen deaths since then, only two involving teen female shooters. Recently, Channel 2 reported sorrowful statistics of a 19% increase in teen crime, with 70% of the offenders going to jail. That news report referred to a study area that included 7.3 million children. An additional frightening report documented teen exposure to illegal drug use increased from about 40% to about 60%, and nationally, about a 400% increased use of prescription drugs. WGN reported a Wisconsin State Official promoting a measure to arm teachers. The same report noted 6% of that area's teen population, carried a weapon to school. Most experienced professionals acknowledged school violence stems from the availability of guns and the psychological problems of teasing, poverty, revenge, hopelessness, and depression. A 2004 source from the National Association of School Resource Officers reported: 1. Nearly half of respondents, all school-based police officers, reported their school's crisis plans were inadequate. 2. Nearly 8% of the same school-based police officers reported taking a weapon from a teen within that past year. If the problem isn't solved at home and in the primary and secondary schools it will continue into college. I remind you of the 1989 shooting at a college in Montreal, Canada. The killer believed there were too many women in the class. He sent all of the men out and shot fourteen women, then killed himself. In April 2007, the same month the Columbine High School event occurred in 1999, we listened to reports thirty-two college students were dead along with the Asian shooter. Additionally, more than a dozen were injured, and hospitalized near Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg. Early reports indicated a sense of failure by the killer, something more important to far Eastern culture, than most of the United States. Add to the list, a University of Texas observation tower ambush; then add to the list, five basketball players killed because the shooter, an outsider, had been denied an award at Catholic College per the Sioux City Journal; and then add the 2008 Northern Illinois University killing of five. Some of these types of killers think they are the victims and must get even; some are not taking their meds, thereby having an abnormal chemical balance. The final Columbine report was released July 2006. " material offered chilling details about the killers' activities in the months before the attack." The homemade audio-visual tape showed intent. The experts summarized, "The threat of violence in schools is ongoing." Reports, including one in September of 2007 on WTTW -TV, confirmed about three teens a month are shot and killed on the streets of Chicago, mostly from drive-by shootings, mostly due to illegal drug trade. People are not doing enough to stop MS-13, the fastest growing element of organized crime in the country. To the three children per month being killed, add one per month killed in school, and I can state "one child's life a week, within a day's driving distance, " is ended. A slow change in thinking is underway. Intervention between parents, teachers, administrators, school-based police, and students is underway with the hiring of specialized safety engineers and consultants who describe changes in building shapes for safety against this type of occurrence and training pertinent individuals involved in methods are as reactionary as "drop and roll." The Boy Scouts of America, has implemented a process that teaches scouts how to avoid being pushed around, if they want to advance through their ranks. When there is a shakedown for a scout's money, "Tell the bully how hard it is to earn." If called a "crater face, " their Handbook recommends theeback "So what if I have a face full of zits. What's it to you?" It is not enough. Recently in Pontiac, Illinois, due to the diligence of a student, six handguns were found in a school locker. An untypical example was a female student in Schaumburg, Illinois, in 2008, reported in the Daily Herald. She had "...a stolen gun in her car, because she felt like killing two other students...". What does it take to stop teens dying as a result of continued street and school violence? My answer follows: This article includes a list of school and street violence, but is not all-inclusive. Violence must be stopped by increased law enforcement against drug sales, proactive adult intervention at home and at school, better economics and new union contracts that will over time, counteract this behavior. The union organizers can pick up the slow pace of improvement. They should demand protection for their workers through contract negotiations, requiring a new clause providing additional security. More cameras in buildings and outdoor locations can be a start, with metal detectors and private security services added at the doors. Presently, the unions only represent one in ten in the work force. I promote the expansion of unionism, because it's the only organization I can think of that can improve itself and gain financially. A new article, Article #1 must be added to the labor agreements of the teachers union, the Teamsters and others. The gist of the new rule is every employee shall be guaranteed minimum safety standards exist to prohibit gun shot wounds. It should apply to indoor places, such as schools, and post offices, and outdoor working assignments, including construction sites, and neighborhood watch groups, by adding additional safety personnel. Then, the National Rifle Association will have to increase their effort to mandate adults' responsibilities when owning weapons, one million dollars per year isn't enough; if one of their members weapon is part of a school shooting or a drive by, the member is fined and expelled for life. Then they must increase their education budget from the one-million dollars they sped today to five-million by year 2019. Then, school administrators and teachers must now put in a full year, at the same rate of pay, because too many children do not like the school environment. Children have not been getting our money's worth for a very long time. Then, expand the service of qualified school psychologists, and institute new mental health advocacy, the new money wille from reducing the defense department's budget. Then, send top levels of religious leaders back to the seminary, for three years of retraining. Then, change the pressure to have a two family income to a one full-time worker and one stay-at-home parent (with some part time work) until the child is in college, in identified families. If our Countrys' leaders' decisions to have the U.S. be the policeman of the world, even without sufficient help from other nations, we can afford to pay to save our kids, by reduce defense department spending. Then...
Eddie Resner writes politics, mystery, advocacy, travel, and fine arts. Born in Chicago, he grew up in the Bucktown neighborhood. The neighborhood is a strong foundation for many of his writing ideas. His short stories include Forty Rubies, After Columbine, Schadefreude, Curious George Looks For the Carrot Tree, Crosswords, and Men are from Locker Rooms, Women are from Powder Rooms. His novel The Three Eddies is ready for editing. Email =

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