Toward less violence in schools
Regarding "Grieving Germany asks: Why?" (April 30): The politicians you quoted who were responding to the German high school student that killed 13 teachers and three students before killing himself mentioned the need for gun control and blamed the media for promoting a culture of violence. The escalation of retaliatory killings among nations is the culture of violence influencing students to kill, not the fantasies portrayed in the media. We could do a lot more for our youth if we set the example of using moral persuasion and negotiation rather than leveraging nations with money, power, and killing.
James M. Murphy
In the early 1990s, my organization was involved in publishing a book in which we identified the specific behavioral profile of the "random actor." Virtually every random school shooter in North America and Europe had this profile and it's entirely possible the Erfurt youth did too.
Once a youth is identified, there is a very specific intervention, that, when applied, guides a youth out of harm's way. We have trained more than 20,000 law-enforcement and education professionals on this issue over the past few years, resulting in the thwarting of catastrophic incidents and providing youths with intervention that deterred their rage and desire to harm others or themselves. We actually trained German police officers on this profile in 1998, and they are making every effort to see that this critical training is provided to new recruits.
The information to help troubled youths is available, but the real key to ending school killings is whether or not communities will act preemptively.
Richardson, TexasKorem & Associates, President
Regarding "Palestinian schools hit hard by conflict" (April 23): Not only can schools tragically suffer from outside violence, attention must also be given to violence that is perpetrated from within school walls. In addition to students feeling physically safe in a school environment, they should be protected from the prejudice and extremism of curriculum writers and teachers as well. By regularly demonizing Israelis and Jews, Palestinian schools contribute to an atmosphere in which children and adolescents idolize suicide bombers and are eager to engage in terrorism.
Just as hopes for a more integrated society in the United States were, and continue to be, anchored by the insistence that all races attend school together and thereby be encouraged to develop mutual respect, the same type of goals should be instituted for the schools in the Middle East. Otherwise, how can Palestinians and Israelis ever reach a realistic and appropriate peace accord?
Silver Spring, Md.
Regarding "Gun-bearing faithful not resting on laurels" (April 29): I found this article about the NRA's annual meeting to be more about a negative opinion of guns and gun enthusiasts than it was about the event itself. We would all benefit from more objective reporting about gun-related issues.
The way the discourse is framed in our country, one can either worship guns as little gods or bow down in fear of them as little demons. There is a serious error in this mesmerizing construct. Guns are simply mechanical devices that have no intrinsic intelligence, volition, or ability to act. People bring intelligence or depravity to guns, not the reverse. It's vitally important to remember that violent acts are always preceded by violent thoughts, with or without guns. Let's treat the problem where it lies.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to email@example.com.