Dale R. Reed (dale-reed@postoffice.worldnet.att.net)
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 19:45:53 -0800

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Good one Jerry. Dale

$  dale-reed@worldnet.att.net   Seattle, Washington U.S.A.  $

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The following editorial was broadcast on the Education Revolution Radio Show, on the Talk America Network, Sunday, March 29th at 9 PM. The weekly show is hosted by Jerry Mintz, Director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization. AERO may be reached at 800 769-4171. Their web site is http://www.speakeasy.org/~aero :

Everybody seems quite perplexed by the shooting by children of children in Jonesboro, Arkansas. But the shooting isn't so hard to understand. I don't think that the primary factor is accessibility to guns. I don't think that the main factor is responsible instruction on the use of guns.

I think that the primary factors have to do with a culture in which life is very frustrating and anger producing for children in today's schools and in their homes. Furthermore, children and, subsequently, adults do not learn how to adequately and effectively express their anger, learn how to makes decisions and deal with problems, and learn how to take responsibility for their education and their lives, in order to effectively meet their own needs.

Essentially, all that the public schools offer, and all that many American homes offer is "Listen to what the teacher says!" or "Listen to what your parents say!" and you'll be OK. Maybe there was a time in the past when this was good enough, but it's not good enough today. The fact that they were normal children is true, because this problem is the norm for our society.

In fact, there are schools and there are homes today in which children have learned how to manage their lives and express their feelings and their anger in appropriate and effective ways. Because they have continuous outlets, anger does not build up to almost uncontrollable levels. Educationally these approaches come under the category of "alternative." They include alternative schools and they also include home education. In some of these cases there are actual democratic decision-making processes in place, which gives children a voice and a way to express themselves and be heard.

In the schools where this is the case, violence is virtually unheard of. If those Jonesboro boys had experienced real empowerment and responsibility in their schools and in their homes, and if they had learned better ways to express their anger and deal with problems (other than by the ubiquitous arcade games, which teach kids to solve problems by shooting down their enemies) I think that the tragedy might have been avoided.