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Letter to the Editor on Violence in the Schools

July 01, 1999

Introduction
Several years ago — before Littleton, Paducah, Pearl, etc. — I was talking with some friends who worked in a public elementary school. One was a teacher and the other a counselor. They were describing the last day of class that year. The graduating class was moving up to the local junior high. Both recounted how the last-day "festivities" turned into to a sob-fest as the little boys who were graduating finally broke down and begged their teachers not to let them graduate. When I asked why the children reacted this way, the counselor said, "Because they are going to a junior high that is notorious for violence, gangs, and drugs. They know they will be the low men on the totem pole there, they will be the brunt of the older kids' abuse, and they are frightened for their lives." And those little boys were sent to that school by their parents and the teachers who knew the school's reputation. This shocked me because I knew there were two Christian schools in that community — peaceful havens of love and learning.

In the years since that conversation, violence in public schools has mushroomed. A common refrain among the parents who have lost children in shootings at public schools is, "Be sure to tell your children each day that you love them before you send them to school, because you may never see your child alive again."

Ironically, they never say, "Get your children out of the public schools."

The following is a letter written to Annie Gabriel of Messiah's Congregation from her friend, R., who has been teaching in government schools in a very rural area of Appalachia for decades. The letter, a response to Annie's inquiry about how things fared in R.'s school in light of Littleton, gives us a glimpse how widespread and how deep is the rot eating at the fabric of America's culture.

— Susan Burns, Chalcedon Managing Editor and Administrative Assistant.

"The tragedy in Colorado only exacerbated the growing fear I have had all year. Kids, even here, are becoming increasingly violent, so much so that many of the students are fearful. We have had three major incidents this year, but the school officials and the courts are still blind.

I see the same blindness in the principal and the teachers at Littleton. This is not a fad; it is not a "phase that the kids are going through." It is not yet another example of diversity that must be accepted. There is nothing normal about guys who wear makeup, love violence, and wear black trenchcoats! As you well know, it is a heart problem. As the old quote goes: "The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart."

I told you last year about students whom I had who dressed this way and who had the same violent thoughts. I was worried then and I'm worried now about students that I have who are the same. There are days that one of my male student's eyeliner, lipstick, and fingernail polish are much better than mine! He also carries Cat inthe Hat with him everywhere while his girlfriend carries a Teletubie! Is that normal? And does anyone really think I can teach them? Did any of the teachers in Colorado view this kind of thing as normal? Where were the teachers? I read that the boys turned in a video (as a class project) of their walking down the hall pretending to shoot athletes. Why was this accepted? I think possibly because their teachers and powers that be are asleep just like ours.

In November, a guy walked off the street into our school. He hid by the biology room and as the classes changed, he jumped a 9th grade student and almost choked him to death. There were no men around; I happened to be the closest teacher. I tried to grab the guy's shirt and pull him off the kid, but I couldn't move him. I grabbed another boy to help me and together we managed to pull him away. When he got to his feet, he turned to me (I was still holding onto his shirt) and threatened to beat me if I didn't turn him loose. Since I thought he was a student and since I was mad as a wet hen, I was reluctant to do so. As he threatened me once again, I realized I was in trouble. I turned him loose, just as the principal finally arrived. Did they call the police? No. They didn't call even after they realized he wasn't a student. They didn't call even though they knew he almost killed this little boy — even with the knowledge that he threatened to beat me, a teacher. No police! They let him go free, before I could get out of the office!!! They didn't want any trouble or, I imagine, publicity.

A few weeks after this incident, one of our employees overheard a conversation on the first floor about a bomb. She ran upstairs and sure enough, there were two boys getting ready to light it! Thankfully, she got there in time. Yes, it was the homemade variety. Very secretly, the police and the BATF were called in. The boys were expelled, but they received only community service from the judge! Boy, I bet that made believers out of them! This incident was immediately hushed up so that the public would not know. The only reason I know of it in detail is that I questioned the employee myself. Since we are friends, she told me the truth.

Finally, last week a guy who is out of school bragged to his friends that he was going to our school to shoot up the place. This time the parents of the students called the police and reported it. Since the guy already had a drug charge, they arrested him. I wouldn't ordinarily be that afraid but I have been waiting on this guy to do something like this for two years. Remember the guy I had who was totally delusional? He said that he had a condo in LA, a girlfriend who was a famous fighter, etc.? Well, anyway, Social Services informed us the year that I had him that, based on all his psychological tests, they were sure that he would probably bring a gun to school and blow us away. That's why they wanted me to document everything. I had been telling the school officials that this was going to happen, but no one wanted to believe it. Since he quit school two years ago, he has been in and out of jail and is extremely violent. When I saw him last year, he bragged to me that he was into Satanism. He knows I'm a Christian and he knew that would get a rise out of me. This threat last week scared me to death.

We have no security at our school, so as you can see, anyone can come inside. There are no metal detectors and we all know there are weapons inside the building on any given day. The school officials are flat-out lying to the public. In recent newspaper articles they boasted of new safety precautions.

None of us have ever heard of such precautions. We just pretend: we don't want to believe that anything can happen here. Bottom line: We are too ignorant and apathetic to care.

I don't know how much longer I will be able to remain in this profession, but I can tell you this: We are approaching warp speed in our descent into hell. I am seeing things now I have never seen in 25 years of teaching. Time and space will not suffice to tell you all, but I don't know if you would believe it anyway. As I look at my colleagues, all I can figure is that God has surely blinded our eyes and deadened our hearts. How else is it that the teachers in Colorado and the teachers here cannot see the sea of lost, violent souls among us? How can this be labeled diversity? How can it be regarded as normal?

I'm sorry for rambling on, but your question cut to a heart that has agonized for a year over this dire situation. Our only hope is for God to humble our hearts and to bring us to Him. Please pray that the Lord would give me wisdom and show me what I can do as a Christian.

Please stay in touch, dear sister.

I love ya,

R.


Topics: Biblical Law, Culture , Education