In late December, the Daily Herald asked members of the community to discuss what needed to be done to resolve the problem of violence in our society. Following that series, we reached out to high school teachers asking them to have their students tell us one thing that could be done to lesson violence. Students in Springville High School teacher Lisa Simmons' class took on the challenge. Here are their responses.
How do you even begin to comprehend a tragedy like this? It's so beyond the scope of normal that at first it seems like somebody is playing a cruel joke on the world, or you're asleep and undergoing a horrid nightmare. I know one thing though; this isn't a time to debate over gun control or the politics of the thing. It's time to contemplate the real reason it occurred. That reason was the lack of psychological well-being in this kid's head. He was so far alienated from his humanity that in some perverted way killing innocent children became acceptable. How does that happen? What sort of hellish inferno was raging inside his mind? How many more kids like him are out there right now, silently screaming for help? It's not about guns! It's about the people behind the guns. The people who think life isn't worth living because their head is wrapped in a thick wool blanket. I would ask that you direct any anger you feel not at the young man who committed the atrocity, but at the atrocity itself. My heart is with the families of those who perished, God bless every last one of them.
-- Ethan T.
A recent shooting in Connecticut, children bringing guns to school, murders and bullies; violence is all around us and is increasing every day. Something must be done to decrease the amount of violence in our country today. Before there was a separation of church and state in schools, students were taught the commandments. The sixth commandment in the Bible is "Thou shalt not kill." Because we have taken religion out of our schools, children are not being taught the principles and ethics that are in the scriptures. I recommend that we start teaching that God wants us to love our neighbors, not to kill them. When religion and school were combined schools had a lot less violence and children were much nicer to each other. I don't remember the last time I had a lesson about ethics or even being kind to other people. Those lessons stopped after third grade. We need to bring God back into our school systems, start teaching respect and ethical behavior.
-- Brooke C.
Violence in our society has lately been very gruesome. Many innocent people have died from the result of mass shootings. It's not fair for the victims, families or communities who have had to experience such tragic events.
We must remember that firearms were only tools in these incidents, and the real killers were the people using them. All of a sudden a gun is considered a bad thing. Without rifles our forefathers never would have freed our nation to form a democracy. Hunters would not be able to shoot game and if a criminal were to break into your home at night, you would not be able to pray hard enough for a police officer to arrive at your home with a gun to protect you.
As an avid hunter and member of the NRA, I support our right to bear arms, but we must teach the public to use them correctly. Firearms are being portrayed in movies and video games as an easy way to kill; more people should learn to use them for purposes of protection and recreation (like Ralphie in "The Christmas Story"). Someday that training might help you be a national hero who stopped the next mass shooting from happening.
-- Sebastian G.
There is not one solution that would eradicate violence. Each case is different and so each needs a different solution. Violence stems from negative feelings. Everyone has feelings of bitterness, loneliness and hopelessness. But everyone does not participate in major acts of violence. So what is the difference?
Whether or not someone has something positive to do to release negative feelings is one factor. This could be anything from exercising to cooking -- it just needs to get the person away from the situation and to make them happy. By learning to harness harmful feelings to do something good, people would no longer need to resort to hurting others to release his or her negative emotions.
-- Liz S.
Violence in our society has increased over the past years due to the everyday stresses of life: money, work, school. However, with the shooting in Connecticut, one of the main issues was the lack of attention toward an illness that could have been handled with medication, thus sparing several lives and making others' lives better.
I believe that a way that at least a small amount of violence in our society could be prevented is awareness and more treatment for mentally ill people who need the help. If someone in your family seems to have possible signs of a mental illness, medical attention should be provided immediately so they can get the correct treatment.
As a city, representatives could hold free seminars and awareness meetings to inform the public about different signs of mental illness or violent behaviors. That way, the town could be aware of the early detection signs of different mental illnesses. A healthy, stable society is a primary way to prevent violence and protect yourself and everyone around you.
-- Heidi C.
The epidemic of violence has rapidly spread and continues to affect an astronomically increasing number of people with each passing day. From world wars to elementary school bullying, we have all come in contact with some form of violence, whether through personal experience or exposure through the news and media. From a very young age, society has been molding our brains to become somewhat desensitized to suffering and to become tolerant of the violence norm. I believe that if students are provided with tools to properly channel their frustrations, taught in a safe and supportive environment and encouraged to develop a strong sense of morality, that future generations will become more unified and strive for peace.
School is a place where children spend the larger part of their time developing their minds and relationships. There, they are persuaded by the influences of their peers and plan the course of their future. In the classroom, students should be encouraged to observe the "golden rule" and the law and be taught how to lead productive lives. Problems may arise from children from various backgrounds, ethnicities and perspectives. An ideal school would have its teachers and staff sufficiently trained to identify signs of emotional disturbance, learning disabilities and prevent social rejection. Once identified, they can take proper measures such as referring a student to a nurse or physiologist to receive the help they need. We can abolish conflicts before they even arise. The key to ending violence is prevention.
-- Yamina C.
All these occurring acts of violence have to stop! People keep talking about how to fix the problem, but they don't do anything to stop it.
Factors such as bullying, unkindness and lack of love or attention contribute to violent tendencies. The children in our community must be taught that we should not, under any circumstances, tolerate gossiping, ridiculing, or shunning. Individuals who experience this are likely to feel isolated from society. These feelings of solitude can lead to hatred. As this hatred builds, the victims tend to target those who they see as "their enemy," eventually displacing their anger onto those who are not even responsible for their grief.
The expectations of our society have to change; we have made it almost impossible for anyone to feel accepted. We are all humans; just because one of us talks, dresses or acts differently doesn't mean they are anything less than we are. It's up to us to stop the violence, so let's do something about it! In order for our community to evolve into a more accepting atmosphere, it is the parents' responsibility to encourage their children to create an environment in which we can all become one.
-- Michelle A.
One of the things I found disturbing about the shooting in Connecticut was that, for days, the news coverage continued to show images and tell stories about the violence that occurred there; it seemed that you couldn't turn on the TV at all without being bombarded with violence, even in the form of reporting. It seems logical to me that if we want to put an end to violence in our communities, we must limit the amount of violence we consume on television, movies, video games, music and even the news.
Parents are primarily responsible for monitoring their children's media consumption, and certainly responsible parents can be a great force for good by making sure they follow rating guidelines for movies, television and video games. But we can do more; widespread efforts to quit supporting media that promotes violence can lead to lasting change if it hurts these industries' bottom lines. Finally, we need legislative action to enforce practices that used to be common, such as restricting access to rated R movies, refusing to sell mature video games to children and making sure violent TV shows and commercials are being limited to certain channels and times.
-- Jennifer B.
The media tells me that I should be afraid of guns. I'm not. In fact, I feel safer knowing that my dad is carrying a weapon when we go to the theater, or that my teacher is capable and prepared to protect me and my fellow students. I strongly believe that we are already taking the right steps for a safer society by having strong gun rights in Utah.
When tragedy struck in Colorado, the city of Aurora had recently outlawed guns in movie theaters. The man who opened fire in that theater knew his victims could not resist. They died because they were unable to defend themselves, and the shooter knew that. Unlike a similar situation in Utah, when a man opened fire in Trolley Square, an off-duty police officer returned fire that stopped a potential massacre. A gunman is going to think twice about shooting up a place that could potentially be filled with weapon wielding civilians.
Utah should not weaken its right to bear arms like many states already have. Many people want to abolish the Second Amendment. Let's not even consider a Utah without guns. They are tools that can keep us safe.
-- Jacob C.
I believe that the best way to prevent violence in our community starts at home. Parents are responsible for taking care of their children, including teaching them important life lessons. At a young age, children should know the proper way to treat people. They need to know that all men are equal, no matter what they look like, believe in, etc. If parents take the time to teach their children to be nice and respect others, violence will decrease in our community. If children have a hard time respecting others, then they need to get help that will help them overcome that habit. Parents can also help teach their children by setting an example. Young people look up to grown-ups, so adults should try to be respectful and loving to set a good example for the children.
-- Lauren B.
"No one will listen. No one cares about my problems. How do I show them what I can't explain? I might as well not have a voice, for all the good it does me. Why can't they understand me?" Emotions run high. Words are screamed. Fists are thrown. Triggers are pulled. One of the major things that cause violence is the inability of persons to communicate effectively. When communication is bad, frustration is caused, which may lead to violence. If we increased effective communication being taught in our school courses, encouraged participation and communication awareness in community activities, and advised parents to hold more successful communication in homes, we would be able to help prevent violence caused by miscommunication.
-- Tayli S.
Violence is everywhere and slowly grows as our society grows with technology and the media. One of the major reasons why people cause violence is because they don't know anything different. Many people grew up in homes where either the parents were abusive or where violence could start and grow in a young person as they grew to be an adult. Children are also starting to grow up watching violent movies or other things that make violent things look OK. Children or parents don't know that they are being brainwashed seeing either fake or real violence. The difference being violence is acted out or the violence is real like in the everyday news.
To prevent such horrible things being planted in the little children's heads media and movies should be censored according to the age levels that can handle such things and who won't want to cause any harm like the stuff they've seen.
-- Marianne G.
Violence in youth today must be recognized. Maybe it is the effect of violent video games, television shows or movies. Whatever the reason, it is a valid concern we are forced to face. Affecting the lives of people every day, this pressing issue needs immediate attention. This year, at Springville High School, students attended an assembly dedicated to remembering the victims of a terrible shooting that occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado. Students at SHS were touched and sobered by the stories shared during this assembly. The message presented encouraged them to recognize the affect they have on others. Inspired upon leaving, students felt they could do more towards making a positive difference by reaching out. Programs similar to this would be effective if regularly presented to schools across the globe. This is something that I believe will cause positive progression toward reducing adolescent violence.
-- Mikayla C.
I think that to solve the problem of violence in our society we must work together and first help decrease the problem of idleness in our society. We need to create places within communities that encourage and praise young people who are learning and developing talents. Places such as recreation centers and libraries can become these places. Oscar Wilde once said, "The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth." Because no one is perfect and everyone can improve we should always be trying to better ourselves. By building community centers we can build youth up and help them to have fun in an enjoyable social setting where they can develop healthy relationships with others. These places can serve as safe havens and invite youth and adults to participate in uplifting activities. By promoting and building up such places we can create a cycle of caring and self-improvement that will invite people to become less slothful and lazy and more productive and caring people, thus creating a society that is always looking towards the progression of its members. As Benjamin Franklin once stated: "Idleness is the Dead Sea that swallows all virtues."
-- Audrey P.
Historically, flagrant school violence is rare and erratic. Highly publicized cases such as Columbine and Newtown evoke anger and fear in law-abiding citizens. People scramble to comprehend and place blame for these unfathomable tragedies. Without understanding or reason, solutions are difficult. Some think gun control is the key while others think more guns would deter violence. Many focus on heightened mental health awareness. Placing blame on the media is also a popular notion.
The constitution assures Americans the right to own weapons. If the founding fathers had foreseen the sophisticated, devastating weapons of today, would they have endorsed regulation? The mental health stigma is another ongoing problem worldwide, and predicting and preventing mental illness is even more daunting and confusing than gun control.
One relatively new and ever-changing factor is high-tech, easily-accessible media including social networking, violent gaming and images that praise violence and esteem the criminal. Killers immediately become infamous at the hands of the media. Perhaps regulation should focus on media coverage. But, then First Amendment rights are infringed and the cycle continues. Since school violence is more rampant and glorified than ever before and history can't be erased, is a solution even probable while protecting individual rights?
-- Brenn M.
Violent acts are a major problem in our society today. From shootings to beatings there is something that makes a person snap in this way. Something has got to give them this push. This could be peer pressure to be accepted by a certain group of people, or it could be a way they were taught as a child. Either way the only thing that makes them for sure snap into doing these things are all mental issues. If we could someway provide help for these people we could get these problems sorted out. We could teach them how to deal with their feelings and how to get their mind off of these feelings. Violence can always be prevented; there is always a better way. By getting help for people we could avoid these situations and prevent further acts of violence.
-- Austin S.
Service to others is a fantastically effective way to lessen the violence rate of this society. Service to others improves the attitude of all who participate in such activities, and in so doing, service decreases the violence in society. When citizens' attitudes are improved, they tend not to focus on their own problems and instead focus on the needs of others and find themselves worrying about more important things like who or what they are serving. Service to another citizen is a better way to patch ones' violence than community service. Although both are positive and leave positive effects, serving others is more effective. Helping others gets one's mind off of himself and get it onto the person he is serving, making that person more aware of others around them, and decreased the violence in this society.
-- Lydia W.
I believe that if we join together as a community and try to create a social side to our city, we could reduce violence. If everyone in Springville were friends with their neighbors, small parts of our community would become tightly knit together and care for each other. I personally feel this care and love in my part of the community. I live in the south side of Springville. Everyone is very close in this neighborhood. I feel safe here. I believe the feeling of safety is exactly what Springville needs. Why should we hate our neighbors? They are the people we call in an emergency, they are your child's best friend, they are as much of a part of Springville as you are. Can't we just care for each other without expecting anything in return? Compassion is a natural human trait and Springville just has to find it in them and use it correctly. Find compassion in yourself and use it. We are Springville; forever united as one.
-- Jennifer K.