By Susie Kroll
Stabbings. Shootings. Drugs. Violence. You might be compelled to think that I am talking about the cartels in Mexico and the ongoing war on drugs. You would be wrong. I am talking about a day in the life of our junior and high school students.
- On October 2, 2011, Cindi Santana, a 17-year old girl was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend.
- On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 students, one teacher, and injured 21 others in a mass shooting at Columbine High School.
- On February 12, 2010, 11 high school students were arrested at Redmond High School in Washington after they were busted by police for selling a variety of drugs to undercover cops on and off campus.
- On October 27, 2009, a report stated that middle schools in Northern Virginia are growing as the new epicenters of gang activity recruitment. The gangs that are recruiting in middle schools are MS-13, Southside Locos, the Bloods, the Crips and 18th Street gangs. These gang names were once only heard of on the streets of major cities, special reports on MSNBC, and in prison documentaries. Not anymore, the violence is moving into places once considered safe, sacred, and protected from the ills of the world-our schools.
I could go on and on about the major acts of violence that are occurring in our schools today. Allegations of sexual abuse, rape, teen dating violence, bullying, and hate crimes are also occurring at an alarming rate in our schools.
Often I hear parents say that schools today haven’t changed much since they were themselves there. I hear parents say that bullying is not something to get worked up over. It will pass. It is how kids build thicker skins. I say tell that to Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year old boy that killed himself on September 17, 2011 after being bullied and tormented for years.
I want to be heard. I need everyone to pay attention. Times have changed. School life has changed. Listen to your kids. Promote healthy and open relationships and discussions. Do not help a bully, abuser, or other tormentor isolate your child and make them feel worthless. Accept that really bad stuff happens in schools and that your child may be a victim without you knowing it. Ask. Talk. Listen. Believe your child. Be Aware. Most importantly, be proactive in your child’s life. Teach them about healthy relationships, communication, and safety. I want every tween and teen to recognize the signs of violence in its many forms so they can get help and not feel alone. I want everyone to listen to those screaming for help and those that don’t know how to ask for it. I want to help a victim while they are still alive instead of finally listening when they are gone. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes-no one listened to Jamey. It IS different now. Let’s work to change the differences in schools to positive instead of negative.
Susie Kroll frequently speaks on the issue of teen dating violence, bullying and how to create healthy relatoinships. She is also a regular contributor to the magazine, Reasons To Be Beautiful. Please visit her website for more information: www.susiekroll.com