Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Virginia Tech. Tragedy -- The Fears About Staying Safe At School

The shootings at Virginia Tech. were a horrible tragedy. I send out my deepest condolences to the parents, siblings, friends, loves, cousins, and classmates touched by these murders. There is no way to undo the damage wrought by the shootings, we can only hope to prevent any future massacres.

I had similar feelings years ago after the shootings at Columbine High School. I was in high school at that time -- in a school with very similar demographics to Columbine. Those shootings made us painfully aware of the chasms within the student body, of the pain that students feel, and of the impact that just a few students can have on so many. As a response we held special functions, tried to "get to know" each other, and discussed the issues of bullying, isolation, and hatred. All these years later, I don't know if we have truly learned anything from the Columbine tragedy. I hope that we have.

The shootings at Virginia Tech. make me painfully aware of the vulnerability in school. I'm a graduate student in my last three weeks of school. Since graduating from high school I've spent countless days and evenings in the library. Why should I now hesitate to spend time in large school areas? I can't help but wonder -- if someone started shooting in the library right now (I'm in the library now), what would I do? What would any of us do?

In the news coverage there is talk about the concern for students' safety in schools. Parents are worried about sending their kids off -- for so much of the day -- to a place where they could potentially be victims. I wholly understand this feeling -- and I hope we can find a way to get past it.

I mourn for the students killed. I mourn for the teachers killed. I also mourn for the atmosphere of safety and learning at Virginia Tech. from before this week.

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