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Don't buy media hype about school violence

April 13, 2001 | Page 8

Dear Socialist Worker,
The recent school shooting in San Diego and other shootings across the country have gotten a lot of press. To be sure, what happened in San Diego was a tragedy that no one would wish on any school.

But the press coverage has covered up two important points. One is that the level of juvenile violent crime—especially school violence—has dropped significantly in this country. It doesn't make the horrific cases go away, but it says that the overwhelming majority of public schools actually is safe.

More importantly, the obsession with school shootings in the media puts the source of that violence in the wrong place. I walked into work the week after the San Diego shooting like usual. I saw high schoolers in the Junior ROTC, the army training program, practicing in our gym.

But this time, the JROTC students weren't just in their uniforms. They were flinging fake wooden rifles from shoulder to shoulder! I was dumbfounded.

When a student brings a gun to school, it is decried as proof of our rotten, violent public schools. But when the government gives our children guns—fake or not—to train with for war, they are given medals and scholarships to college!

What insanity! Instead of accepting the hysteria against those disturbed teens who do lash out at school, we should point the finger at the real problem—those at the top of society who depend on the violence of poverty and war to keep their power.

Jeff Bale, AFT Local 6, Washington, D.C.

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