School plays a foundational and integral role in forming personality. Other than being a learning and educational institution, it is the first place where children learn to communicate and connect, outside the home. A school is a place where lasting and unbreakable friendships are formed, and we first learn to form memorable bonds, built, not on blood, but on a unique mixture of both commonality and difference. But there is a dark side to both public and private schooling.
For some children and teenagers, school is a portal to bullying, hardship, and anxiety. It can become a place to detest self-doubt and fall apart in a struggle to keep up with conformity and lack of individuality. Without a doubt, the global and American educational systems have changed unrecognizably compared to just a generation ago, but some things have stayed the same. Despite advances in visual surveillance such as cameras and CCTV, violence in schools is growing at an unstoppable rate.
School shootings in the US have been so rampant, that the term has become synonymous with America. Columbine, Frontier Middle School, and Sandy Hook are just some names that received a lot of media coverage, the tragedies are still remembered strongly enough to send shivers down any parent’s spine, even years later. As of 2021, there have been a total of 170 school shootings in the United States. 2018 alone witnessed 11 active school shooter incidents. The Columbine massacre left enough carnage to inspire films and copycats. Some attacks resulted in fatalities of children as young as 6 years old.
These shocking statistics seem to indicate a terrifying truth: Schools are one of the most unsafe places in America. Somewhere between learning ABC and Pythagoras’ theorem, our teens seem to have picked up a thirst for violence, murder, self-harm, and guns.
How “normal” teens and kids become killers and what parents can do:
Bullying and Cyber bullying:
Getting bullied alone may not be enough to make someone a killer but revenge seemed to be the driving force behind most school shootings in America. Investigations revealed that the perpetrators of the Columbine High school (Colorado) Massacre in 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had complained in vast pages of personal journals about the pain of having to live with constantly being bullied by their peers. Their parents seemed to have no clue about what their children faced at school, given the fact that most American parents barely know how to effectively communicate with their teens.
Barry Loukaitis was only 14 when he killed his Algebra teacher and two students, after holding his whole class hostage at Frontier Middle School, Washington. Loukaitis, later claimed during his trial “I was bullied and beaten up by baseball bats my entire life and even had a knife pulled on me in school.”
The chances of encountering bullying have grown since children and teens have started to spend most of their social lives on platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Excessive use of social networking is also more likely to create feelings of isolation and body dysmorphia, particularly in young people, stemming from body image perfection and foolish beauty standards. All of these, however, are actually easier to monitor, in comparison to hovering over your children and teens, by using the best spyware for Android.
Unsupervised resources and internet:
Another commonality that all school shootings in America shared seems to be that all teen shooters had unsupervised and unrestricted access to the internet, or media and literature that were not age-appropriate. There can be such a thing as too much information for a young and vulnerable mind, especially those that are passing through the turbulence of puberty.
The Frontier School killer mimicked the main plot from a thematically mature and very violent novel, “Rage”, that even most adults would find hard to get through. The famous American rock band Pearl Jam also drew criticism when the killer’s mother stated that their song “Jeremy” had inspired her son’s violent assault.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold reportedly derived their pipe bomb recipes from “The Anarchist’s cookbook”, which is alarmingly still available online and contains tutorials for everything from basic hacking to homemade bombs and weapons. The Columbine killers also left a lot of fandom behind including violent films like the R-rated “Natural Born Killers”, which no teenager should be allowed to watch, and features its main protagonists causally going on rampages.
22 years after Columbine, any child or teenager can access even more similar content online and find detailed gun loading, shooting, target practice, as well as bomb-making tutorials on a commonly used platform like Youtube. We aren’t even talking about the Dark web. Let that sink in.
The internet is more than just a resource. It also helps our children connect to us and cannot be blocked completely. But without close supervision and restrictions for those under 18, it can be a dangerous portal into unrestricted information that can turn into an abyss. Using the best spyware for Android will not only let you keep an eye for danger, but will also alert you when your children step into territory that could change them forever.
Recognize the sign before it’s too late:
Investigations into all school shootings revealed heavy planning in advance and obvious tracks, some even left deliberately, that parents had overlooked. Most of these signs came in the form of diaries, internet searches, and personally recorded tapes. The parents of the killers came under heavy fire by the media and victims’ families, for missing these red flags. Before going on their killing spree, the Columbine killers left angst-ridden rants on personal public web pages that were ignored and shrugged off.
Today, the best cell phone spyware simplifies monitoring your child for early signs of interest in violence and violent behaviors.
Acceptance and communication:
Most school shooters and attempted killers weren’t from broken homes, weren’t “lone wolves”, and were pretty ordinary kids, to begin with. Some of them had extremely loving families that held varying religious beliefs and weekend barbecue get-togethers. Some of them were highly intelligent and even excelled at academics. But most of them had had exposure to information and media that were extremely unsuitable for their age and also bore the traumatic scars of bullying. Communication with children and teens is just as important for their wellbeing as a healthy diet is.
School shootings are easier to prevent than to stop. Going to school shouldn’t feel like a threat to any child, but in the case that it does, a parent should be the first to know. Bullying, unsupervised internet, and lack of attention to your child’s activities can cause permanent damage that can show up years later and can also turn to violent tendencies. No child should have to feel alone or forced to fall in line, and parents should be accepting of their kids, in order for communication to remain open and comfortable. In the wake of school shootings, parents of perpetrators and victims, both, seemed to have suffered equally, albeit, in different ways. Not all casualties are recorded and can remain unseen, and some change the course of our lives forever.