School House Lock | Sojourners

School House Lock

As the media report each new act of violence in American schools, the only question journalists can ask is, Why? They are desperately looking for the causes of perversion in today’s youth. In truth, there will never be any reason—whether it is television, video games, bad parenting, a secular society, or the press itself—that fully explains how an adolescent, even as young as 9 years old, can murder his or her classmates and teachers and feel a surge of power at watching them die.

Both students and parents are concerned with safety in schools. The solution presented by the Washington, D.C. school district has been to cut the positions that naturally provide security in schools—such as janitors and school guards—and subcontract that work to outside companies that primarily sell security hardware. The result is that to enter school, high school students are forced to pass through scanners and video cameras.

I must now wear to school an ID badge with a barcode. I feel as though I am a criminal constantly under suspicion.

The only way to ensure safety in schools is to make students feel acknowledged and secure. Students often do not feel safe in their schools because of the lack of trust that exists between students, teachers, and administration. It seems the only purpose ID badges serve is to reinforce the maxim that students (like any teen-agers) are "guilty until proven innocent" by an adult.

Young people cannot survive in an environment where they are constantly suspected of misconduct without beginning to live up to those negative expectations. Teen-agers are extremely in tune with how other people perceive them. If they feel that others judge them as inferior, they begin to act desperately. They mutilate or starve themselves, lose interest in learning, or commit acts of violence.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2000
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