By Clayton Anderson.
In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, the news cycle has shown students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, along with thousands of other students across the nation, participating in marches and boycotts, enlightening the world on what they think is the best way to protect children at school. However, one crucial part of the education system seems to have been overlooked in this race to secure schools and students: the teachers. Luckily, Mrs. Denton, Heritage’s American History teacher, graciously agreed to an interview about what she believes are the causes of school shootings, as well as possible solutions the education community should look into.
First I asked what she believes the root causes of the shootings are, because finding the root of the problem is always key in finding the solution. Denton stated, “All school shooters have been male, so that narrows the focus group somewhat. One factor cited recently has been the absence of father figures in the home. Without a strong male role model, at-risk kids are left on their own to develop what they see as ‘masculine’ behaviors or figure out how to channel their energy.”
She has an extremely strong point here; it has been proven that 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from a fatherless home (Center for Disease Control). “The statistical data showed that a 1% increase in the proportion of single-parent families in a neighborhood is associated with a 3% increase in an adolescent’s level of violence. In other words, adolescents who live in neighborhoods with lower proportions of single-parent families and who report higher levels of family integration commit less violence” (National Center). The absence of a father figure is one of the biggest causes of delinquency and is a huge issue in our society today.
Following up, I asked, “Do you think legislation should be passed regarding [this issue] or do you think it has to be repaired by a cultural movement?” Denton responded, “Law was never intended to fix social issues, mainly because it inherently can’t do that. Legislation regarding gun restrictions may placate those who feel guns are the problem but that doesn’t address the underlying mental health issues, violence inherent in today’s media, and the collapse of families… Look at MLK and civil rights. Most of the change was done internally to help change unfair law. Maybe this movement by Florida’s students (overflowing to states nationwide) can bring national attention to address the problems locally, since I don’t think the federal government can fix it.”
Denton cites the Civil Rights movement in that it took decades after the law was changed for societal equality to come. She is expressing that even after the law is changed to accommodate the mentally ill, it may not fix the problems immediately prompting the last question.
In response, I posed the question, “Do you think there are short-term solutions that should be looked into to prevent the event of another school shooting in the near future? Possibly actions taken by the individual states and school districts to ensure the safety of students?”
Denton replied, “I do think there are actions that can be taken. Arming teachers is dangerous, in my opinion, and I would never want to have the responsibility of wielding a firearm at school. Other teachers with different experiences might feel differently. Adding armed guards to schools presents the same concerns but might be a viable option for some schools. Let each decide for itself….The bottom line is this–we live in a society where nowhere is safe. How do we protect the youngest and weakest among us at school (which is required by law and should be safe) in an unsafe society? There is no 100% way to guarantee that. And that, to me, is the greatest tragedy.”
Denton expresses that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that the decision should be devolved to the states and local governments to choose what is best for their specific situation. While some of us may be quick to point fingers or rush into unnecessary legislation,we should all take a step back and look hard at the problems and come together to find a real solution.
National Center for Fathering. “The Consequences of Fatherlessness.” (2015). http://www.fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/. Accessed 28 Feb. 2018.
Denton, Jenny. Text interview. 27 Feb. 2018.