Policy Futures in Education, v7 n3 p356-361 2009. 6 pp.
School Safety, Violence, Young Adults, Youth, Role, Ideology, Time Perspective, World Views, Crime, Tragedy, Privacy, Video Technology, Psychological Patterns, Student Rights, Social Problems, Public Policy, Perspective Taking, Arizona, Colorado, and New York
For young people it just gets worse. Ten years after the Columbine tragedy, the debate over school safety has clearly shown that educators, parents, politicians, and the mainstream media have created the conditions in which young people have increasingly become the victims of adult mistreatment, indifference, neglect, even violence. The tragic shootings at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 seem to fix in time and space an image of children as violent, a threat to public safety, and increasingly in need of surveillance, policing, and containment. How children experience, resist, challenge, and mediate the complex culture, politics, and social spaces that mark their everyday lives did not seem to warrant the attention such issues deserve, especially in light of the ongoing assaults on minority youth of color and class that have taken place following the Columbine killing spree. Rather than giving rise to a concern for young people, Columbine helped to put into place the development of a youth control complex in which crime has become the fundamental axis through which children's lives are both defined and monitored while the militarization of schools became the order of the day. The aftermath of the Columbine tragedy does not simply reflect the loss of social vision, the ongoing privatization and corporatization of public space, and the inevitable erosion of democratic life that results, it also suggests the degree to which children have been "othered" across a wide range of ideological positions, unworthy of serious analysis as an oppressed group--posited no longer as "at risk" but "as the risk" to democratic public life. Fear, indifference and demonization share an unholy alliance in the willful refusal to foreground the increasing precariousness--materially, economically, socially--of children's lives as well as the role that young people can play in shaping a future that will not be simply a repeat of the present, a present in which children increasingly count less as valuable resources than as a financial drain and pervasive danger to adult society. The author contends that maybe the time has come to stop simply replaying the heart-pounding video footage that is tragically reduced to spectacle in the absence of any thoughtful critique. Instead, he urges everyone to ask themselves about the failure of American society to take responsibly and seriously what it might mean to protect and nourish young people rather than treat them as a generation of suspects. (Contains 25 notes.)