Here is the first installment of a two-part discussion. The first thing I would like to talk about is high school itself.
Every time there is a school shooting, I pay attention. I try to learn a little bit about the character of the killer. I think there are two things that are common among these school shootings. One is that these kids/young adults were bullied; the other is that they also suffered from some kind of mental issues, often depression. Usually they suffer from more than one mental problem. Bullying can and does happen outside of school, but I want to talk specifically about bullying inside schools.
I was bullied a lot when I was young. I don’t want to talk about that here, but it’s something that defined me in many ways. When I hear about these killers, a part of me dies inside. I feel for them. I know how much they must have hurt inside. I know that they probably felt that life was unbearable. They saw no way out. They wanted some kind of revenge. Most of the time, these kids don’t even get revenge with the same people who bullied them. They just go into a random classroom or hall and open fire at the world. At least what they see is the world. I can really sympathize with these kids.
In my mind, much of the problem lies in the high school institution.
First off, school sucks. I’m not anti-high school necessarily, but I’m no huge supporter either. For some reason, there is a high-school mindset that kids get. Immediately after I graduated high school, I realized that high school wasn’t real life. While in school I thought that if I did horribly in high school, I was going to do horribly in life. It turns out that high school is nothing like life in the real world. If someone had sat me down and explained to me that there was a huge difference between the two, and would have given me an alternative to high school, I think I would have been better off. I honestly think that if someone had shown these kids that there was more to life, things might have been different for them. Most of them were smart; they probably would have easily been able to move more smoothly into college. All of my college experiences have been good. I never felt alienated or bullied at all in college. It’s a completely different world. I guess the one could argue that Cho was in college. I guess that’s true, but I think that most of the damage had been done by the time he left high school. His perception of reality was way gone by then. From what I have read, Virginia Tech is a lot like a high school anyway. With it’s cliques and such. Maybe Cho would have been better off at a community college. One that isn’t filled with spoiled rich kids etc.
If my kids are bullied, first I will try helping them resolve their problems. If that solution does not work, I will let them drop out. I will help them get their GED or home school them. They could probably even get into college early. I think that the traditional high school system is way outdated and for many kids, completely ineffectual. Some kids thrive in the environment. That’s cool, but I recognize that there are alternatives to the system. I will do what is best for my kids.