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Wednesday, October 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 37

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Are we the ones to blame?

By Wendy Miller

Before another shooting occurs, I have to voice my opinion on the issue of today's school children killing each other. There is turmoil inside schools, inside America's younger population. Columbine has been the most tragic and, unless the tide is reversed, it will not be the last.

I watched the drama shockingly unfold on April 20 at Columbine High. Why was everyone caught off guard? Warnings have been going off all over the country for the last five years or so (Kentucky, Oregon, etc.). Sadly, as if there is a secret society of potential killers keeping a running tally, the severity of the shootings keeps escalating. As you are reading this paper, isn't it possible that a handful of middle schoolers is somewhere plotting a massacre worse than Columbine? Is it a game to them?

That is a pessimistic outlook, but I fear for the lives of younger relatives. I am even frightened for the innocent girl I met at the bus stop today. Children should have kid fears, like the bogeyman in the closet. They are too young to know what it's like to live in fear of dying at school. They need to feel safe. I say that we make Columbine our last wake-up call. We owe it to Cassie Bernall and the other victims to pay attention.

These are pieces of the puzzle: Stricter gun control and firearm selling laws. More parental supervision and attention. Caring teachers and faculty. More label warnings on violent games, music and movies that are marketed for children. Additional school security and metal detectors.

I have additions to this wish list. Mass murderers are what we are dealing with. They are young for such a title, but it's what these shooters are. Mass murderers want notoriety. So I say that we take it away. It is a step in the right direction to stop them from profiting from their crimes. In most cases, judges will forfeit all revenue (movie deals, books, etc.) to the victims, family or to memorial funds. However, I say that more needs to be done.

These are their 15 minutes of fame, so turn the spotlight off them and shine it on the victims. Every time that a TV report mentions a certain killing, instead of the monster, flash the victim's face. The media bases reporting style on the audience's demands, so quit demanding that the murderer be visible every possible second. Ask for the victims to be the focus.

For example, I mention only one name in my article -- Cassie Bernall. I refuse to give murderers credit any longer.

There is a program that I believe in: L.I.V.E. (Love is Violence's Enemy). It is an anti-violence project that is manned by peers, with some faculty advice. Schools can reach students through fellow students. It can include weekly sessions (via Internet or in person) and a school hot line where students can vent or voice concerns.

If you have younger siblings or children of your own, ask them if their school has a program designed to prevent violence. Contact their school and become involved. If a program does not exist, then suggest one.

Almost everyone has voiced an opinion on how to stop tragedies like Columbine. Imagine a world where almost everyone actually did what they said.

Miller, 
a junior philosophy major, 
can be reached at laurana@ev1.net.

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