Violence in Schools – How Everything Has Changed AGAIN
If you have been following along with the story of Phil Eastwood and how I ended up in policing, you will know that I fell into law enforcement as a result of trying to escape from the high school bully, a boy named David.
When David was in a bad mood (which I remember being almost daily) you could feel the atmosphere in the school and the classroom change. There was palpable tension in the air and we all waited to see who he was going to target next. I always felt as if my turn came around far too often.
But my history pales in comparison with what we now think of when new talk about aggression and violence in today’s schools.
Marysville School Violence
I live in Vancouver and about a 2 hour drive south of us here is the small town of Marysville, nestled on the side of Interstate 5.
It was in this small town that on Friday, 24th October 2014, life in the 1,200 student high school would forever be changed. Nothing would be the same again.
According to reports, a student, Jaylen Fryberg, had texted some of his friends and invited them to meet him at a table in the school cafeteria.
He was related to two of these students.
As his friends sat there waiting for him, Jaylen Fryberg arrived and immediately opened fire with a weapon that he brought with him, hitting each one of his friends before turning the gun on himself, fatally shooting himself.
Since that awful day in October, four of those students have died and the investigation into the motive for the tragedy continues. Only one of the victims managed to survive and has since been released from hospital.
We don’t know many things about the circumstances that led up to that terrible event and speculating does no one any good at all.
There would likely have been a warning sign of some sort. A comment…an act…that was missed or ignored. The reality is that we don’t know.
There is one thing we do know for certain.
We need to be vigilant to any and all of the warning signs of potential aggression and violence within our schools.
We need to create an atmosphere of trust, not fear – making it safe for students to be able to share information.
We must not put our collective heads in the sand and hope that that ‘worst day ever’ doesn’t happen to us.
That is what I did when being around David at The Littlehampton School, all of those years ago. I told no-one about the fear that I sat in each day when I came to school each day and I know that my classmates did the same.
When I look back at my behaviour now, I can’t imagine that the scared school boy was me, but it was. I just wish I had said something to David…or told one of my teachers what was going on. They are the ones charged with looking after me after all.
But I didn’t.
I just watched the clock and wished for the fast forward button to engage so that the end of the day would arrive and I could escape.
The first step in changing things is awareness.