School Survival

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The price of intolerance


The Colorado School shootings, did intolerance play a role?

Don't call me a one-worlder, globalist, etc. I love America and every part of our great Constitution. I believe in our right to bear arms, free speech, etc.

I am disturbed because of the Colorado shootings and the lack of media coverage on the aspect of the intolerance that pushed the boys over the edge in the first place. This does not in any way mean that these boys should have had access to guns, nor that they should have been allowed to bring them into school or that they are "justified" in committing the murders.

The issue I am talking about is intolerance. In the adult world, there has been a virtual revolution over the past few years over the issue of intolerance due to race, sex, and other issues. The courts have provided just compensations as well as a place of redress for these things. That is, in the ADULT world.

But what about students? How long will we hold to the outdated idea of "boys will be boys" or "girls will be girls" in the case of cruel namecalling and torment that millions of students have to endure each and every day that they attend school?

We should applaud the efforts our school systems have made to teach multiculturalism, especially because of the understanding it has brought between races. But there remains a pervasive black hole in the curriculum that cannot be ignored without great price. This is the "black hole" that I believe the boys who perpetrated the Colorado shootings were sucked into. How many more victims will there be before we pay attention?

We've all had those days. Think about it for a moment. Who hasn't had at least one episode in their lives where one or more kids called them names? For most of us, tomorrow was another day, and all was forgotten by the next day. Maybe you wore socks that didn't match, or had messy hair on that day. For whatever reason, in most cases, the incident was quickly over and forgotten. But what about those who have to endure it EVERY DAY?

Perhaps you changed your socks or fixed your hair and didn't suffer any worse the wear for it. But the fat kid in your science class had to take his shorts down from the flagpole, had to walk down the hall as quickly as possible to try and not draw any attention to himself - without success, I might add, because the jocks passing by him just can't keep their hands to themselves. They simply HAVE to stick their fingers deep into his belly while shouting "dough boy!" And there's the girl whose face is covered with pimples, hiding her face behind her books - equally without success, because here comes a cheerleader who thinks it is cool to push her books into her face while saying loudly, "pizza face!"

Whatever the case, it ALL falls under the same name: intolerance. The fat kid isn't going to suddenly become a jock the next day, so therefore his tomorrow is NOT over and forgotten. It is more of the same, and in most cases, the intolerant bullies get progressively WORSE. Meanwhile, there is little, if any, redress for these tormented people. So they get into something - ANYTHING that will give them an identity to make them feel like somebody. Sometimes the things they reach out for can actually turn them into worse people than their tormenters. (Case in point, the Colorado killers idolized Adolph Hitler!)

By solely putting the tormented people into counseling is like putting half a bandaid on a cancer. Consider this for a moment: What if teachers had seen the jocks tormenting these boys and had taken steps to stop the intolerance through education? Going back even further -- WHAT IF our curriculum had included coverage of general intolerance beginning in grade school? Little bullies grow up to be big bullies. This is a known fact. Early intervention is, therefore, VITAL in our war against intolerance of ALL KINDS.

While continuing to combat intolerance due to race, creed, religion, sex, etc. We ALSO need to EXPAND on this to include truly ALL forms of intolerance. The Colorado school shootings show that this is an absolute NECESSITY, and moreover, we must start EARLY.


Do you remember your teen years? Hormones are firing right and left during puberty, and mood swings are frequent. WHY? Because they are becoming adults. To start teaching on the evils of intolerance at this time will be to start TOO LATE. Even so, we MUST start somewhere. Puberty can be painful enough on its own, but when you add the torment of intolerance, history shows that it is easy for the tormented person to snap - killing himself or herself and sometimes killing others as well.

It is time to spread the blanket of tolerance to cover ALL people. If we do not do this, we have provided only a partial cure to a vast sickness. How many more people have to die before we take action?

I urge all teachers and parents to consider these things carefully, as points of discussion to institute ACTION. Without ACTION, we are all going to be equally guilty of the next school crimes that are committed just as sure as the perpetrators are guilty.


  1. Respect for the personal space of others.

  2. Respect for ALL differences in people, including looks, height, build, clothes, hair, color, handicap, etc.

  3. Outlining what behavior is acceptable vs. what is unacceptable.

  4. As a part of the curriculum, teaching how intolerance has shaped history in negative ways, and how it could have been avoided.

  5. Roleplaying as a teaching tool.

  6. Showing the strength and honor of speaking out POSITIVELY on behalf of the downtrodden, RATHER THAN joining in with the tormenters.

  7. Discuss "what if" scenarios of the above; i.e. "what if the peoples of all colors had all decided that they would also not ride the bus because Rosa Parks, who was black, could not sit where she wanted to in the 1960's?"

    Use other historic situations to cause people to understand that there is a certain degree of guilt BECAUSE OF SILENCE.

  8. Institute a firm written policy on harassment of all kinds.

  9. Institute a "three strike" code in the school laws that provides for mandatory counseling for children who are caught harassing others three times. (1st time offender should have a warning, 2nd time offender should have to write all the words of the written policy 100 times plus have it signed by a parent, giving the parent a warning that they will have to put their child in counseling if there is another offense).

  10. Discuss and illustrate "trends of the past" with photos and dialogue, to allow the class to examine what traits and styles used to be considered attractive. Compare them with what traits and styles are considered to be attractive today, and how the media has influenced it. Discuss what price people have paid in order to become this media-glorified version of what is considered to be "attractive" (i.e. anorexia/bulemia, plastic surgeries) Move on to the strengths of self acceptance.

Remember this: if the blanket is too short, someone is going to get cold. How many people do you know right now who are tormented on a daily basis who have no redress because there is no tolerance for them? How many of that number are time-bombs waiting to explode? Are we going to wait around and find out -- or are we going to do something?

Think about it.

Written by:
13 September 2001

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