Youth safety, then and now

October 31, 2003

Following the incident at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in April 1999, states nationwide held "youth safety summits," supposedly to address the problem of youth violence. State summits culminated in a national summit held under the direction of then President Bill Clinton.

The problem of youth violence was solved. Summit participants were pleased that their "voices were heard" in the halls of government, that they were able to participate in our "participatory democracy." Everyone went home feeling good.

But was the problem really solved? Since April 1999, there have been no less than 19 incidents involving guns and schools:

         Conyers, Georgia May 20, 1999

         Deming, New Mexico November 19, 1999

         Fort Gibson, Oklahoma December 6, 1999

         Mount Morris Township, Michigan February 29, 2000

         Savannah, Georgia March 10, 2000

         Lake Worth, Florida May 26, 2000

         New Orleans, Louisiana September 26, 2000

         Baltimore, Maryland January 17, 2001

         Santee, California March 5, 2001

         Williamsport, Pennsylvania March 7, 2001

         Granite Hills, California March 22, 2001

         Gary, Indiana March 30, 2001

         Caro, Michigan November 12, 2001

         New York, New York January 15, 2002

         New Orleans, Louisiana April 14, 2003

         Red Lion, Pennsylvania April 24, 2003

         Spokane, Washington September 22, 2003

         Cold Spring, Minnesota September 24, 2003

         Lawndale, North Carolina September 25, 2003

One of the predetermined outcomes of the summits was that these school shootings should not receive the media attention they had, theretofore, received. The reason given was that such would dissuade those shooters seeking their "fifteen minutes of fame." The result was that school shootings were suddenly no longer front and center on the evening news, local and national, giving people a false sense that the problem had been cured.

Obviously, that is not true; the number of school shootings has not slowed at all. In the same 4.5 year period prior to April 21, 1999, there were 15 reported incidents:

         Lynnville, Tennessee November 15, 1995

         Moses Lake, Washington February 2, 1996

         Location withheld February 8, 1996

         Patterson, Missouri March 25, 1996

         Scottsdale, Georgia September 25, 1996

         Bethel, Alaska February 19, 1997

         Pearl, Mississippi October 1, 1997

         West Paducah, Kentucky December 1, 1997

         Stamps, Arkansas December 15, 1997

         Jonesboro, Arkansas March 24, 1998

         Edinboro, Pennsylvania April 25, 1998

         Fayetteville, Tennessee May 19, 1998

         Springfield, Oregon May 21, 1998

         Notus, Idaho April 16, 1999

         Littleton, Colorado April 20, 1999

In August 1998, a report was forthcoming from the US Department of Education entitled Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. The report was "based on the work of an independent panel of experts in the fields of education, law enforcement, and mental health." The research found in the guide was funded by the following federal offices:

         Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education

         Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, US Department of Education

         Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice

         National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice

         National Institute of Mental Health, US Department of Health and Human Services

         National Institute of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services

         Center for Mental Health Services, US Department of Health and Human Services

The guide laid out the "early warning signs" of a prospective violent youth:

         Social withdrawal

         Excessive feelings of isolation and being alone

         Excessive feelings of rejection

         Being a victim of violence

         Feelings of being picked on and persecuted

         Low school interest and poor academic performance

         Expression of violence in writings and drawings

         Uncontrolled anger

         Patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and bullying behaviors

         History of discipline problems

         Past history of violent and aggressive behavior

         Intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes

         Drug use and alcohol use

         Affiliation with gangs

         Inappropriate access to, possession of, and use of firearms

         Serious threats of violence

Obviously, the guide for all the time and money spent coming up with it, distributing it, promoting it, and hiring personnel to implement and oversee it in schools hasn't had the effect of deterring school shootings.

It has, however, released the flow of money from the federal government to the states to "stop youth violence," the effect of which has been to increase the power and position of the government at the federal level via requirements set forth in requests for proposals (RFPs) for grants that states must agree to in order to get the grant money.

The American people have seen this over and over again. Every time the government sets out to "fix" a problem, the problem doesn't get fixed, it gets worse. Why? Because the government must be able to justify its existence and growth. And the government does that by perpetuating the problem while claiming it is doing just the opposite. If the problem goes away, so does the funding, the personnel, the growth of big government. Can't have that, now, can we? Thus it has gone with every social issue the government has addressed.

Have the American people learned? No, the American people, by and large, still hold to the belief that the government owes them something, owes them security, and is there to see that they are taken care of. And the government certainly has done nothing to dissuade that line of thinking since such would be counterproductive to the growth of government, and would, therefore, be self-defeating.

And the states, every one, are experiencing financial difficulties. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

How do we cure this problem?

         Cut social programs and the taxes supporting those social programs. Such will allow mothers to return to the home where they belong when children reside there.

         Dump psycho-education, part and parcel, and the taxes supporting psycho-education. Psycho-education isn't about educating for intelligence, it is about behavior modification engaged in by people who do not have the clinical training or license to do so.

         Assert the tenth amendment of the US Constitution concerning states rights.

         Get rid of all unconstitutional state and federal offices and the taxes supporting those offices.

         Return our nation to the constitutional basis on which it was established.

Such would cure most of the problems known to our country today.

2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved