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School violence not always preventable - April Avison

The recent stabbing incident involving two teenagers at Dacula High School prompted the usual results: parents declaring their outrage, and news commentators hinting that if the schools only had metal detectors in place, this never would have happened.

Although this incident didn't claim any lives and pales in comparison to the tragic school shootings that seem to be on the news more often than we'd like to see, it does revisit the issue of school violence and why it seems to be so prevalent.

Consider the unforgettable April 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on their teachers and classmates. These young men were so filled with hate that nothing would have stopped them. We are so quick to go over the "what ifs," to blame teachers for not reporting unusual behavior or administrators for not punishing them.

It reminds me of something Judy Perdue, the former director of Flint Circuit Council on Family Violence, said to me once. She was talking about how battered women's greatest defense from their abuser is a restraining order. "But a bullet will go right through that piece of paper," she told me.

And a teenager who has spent months building a bomb is not going to be deterred by a metal detector. And it's not the responsibility of the school system to invade a child's privacy because he wears a trench coat to school and paints his fingernails black – that's the parent's responsibility. I believe 100 percent that if any person could have stopped Harris and Klebold on that horrible day in Colorado, it would have been someone they loved, not their chemistry teacher.

And the recent stabbing incident at Dacula High School – although on a much smaller scale than the Columbine incident – should be treated with the same principle, and instead of questioning the school's role, we should question the parents' role.

When something like this happens, the serious news anchor comes on the television and says, "Officials say overcrowding could have an impact on crime in schools." What a load of crap. Overcrowding doesn't make you stab someone. Nor does the lack of a metal detector.

Of course we'd like to have a scapegoat and blame someone or something for these tragedies that have occurred in our schools. But we all know that a child's character is built at home – that's where they make the decision of what kind of person they are going to be. Let the schools do their job and leave the parenting to the parents.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.