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Teen Worried About Students Who "Love Death"

Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker

Q: I'm not a parent but I needed to ask this to someone who has experience. I'm a high school student and I really don't feel that police in the schools will help. If there is a kid in any school with enough anger inside, police have only about 5 percent impact on someone like that. I could probably point out about 50 kids that would be candidates for a killer. Many kids honor those Columbine killers. I don't feel scared, but I'm worried about the next group of kids that comes in and loves death. Does any of this make sense to you?

A: Yes, it all makes sense, and you offer some real wisdom. Most schools have responded to the Littleton tragedy by improving real estate, instead of improving education. The buildings have been enhanced with cameras and locks, and armed police are roaming the halls.

But Littleton had cameras, and armed police - neither detected the upcoming violence or prevented the tragedy. Indeed, you are right that many kids have a fascination with death, and that's always been true. What's different, however, is that those kids are now encouraged by local TV news that also has a fascination with death. Hours every day are dedicated to showing viewers how they might die. Then, other media glorify revenge and violence, and yet some people are surprised when a kid chooses the violent option that's been paraded in front of him. We spend more time and money learning about why a kid wants a particular brand of jeans than about why he wants a gun. Society will benefit when we listen to children and teens, and YOU help us do that. I can tell you'll be helping in other ways as well. Stay in touch.

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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.


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