"There has simply never been a need for metal detectors here... We don't even have a gang problem."
March 9, 2001 9:59 AM   Subscribe

"There has simply never been a need for metal detectors here... We don't even have a gang problem." Great article from the NYT about problems in the "safe" suburbs. What is it with all these parents that just don't get it? When will people start to think, "Wow, it might just happen here?" What's it going to take for people to change?
posted by gramcracker (10 comments total)
So...what...metal detectors in all schools?
posted by Hackworth at 10:16 AM on March 9, 2001

As Scott Shuger says at Slate, the Times pretty much shoots itself in the foot on this one.
posted by obfusciatrist at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2001

For people to change? Like living in fear because there's a one in a million chance some kid will shoot up their local school?
posted by Doug at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2001

Is it really a good idea to make schools an even more oppressive environment for students by turning them into prison camps?
posted by harmful at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2001

Sure... there's a huge movements for uniforms (no uniqueness, no one's going to wear anything revealing, no gang colors, no rolled up pants(, march is in lines, metal detectors and fences with police patroling every couple of monites, underpaid teachers that a lot of the time have to do the work of a guard (because the parents don't care how their child is raised in the first place); aren't they prison camps already?
posted by tiaka at 10:52 AM on March 9, 2001

Err, uhm, I meant "change" in terms of paying attention to your children, to what's going on in their lives.

It seems like people are more interesting in giving their children things (cell phones, cars, clothes) than love, or interest in their childrens' lives. Sure, two jobs help increase income, but at what cost? These kids said that hadn't been hugged in a long time. Anyone else see a problem with this?

I think the "myth" the Times is referring to is the one that suburban schools are safe. People think that there's no violence in towns where there are no gangs? You've got to be kidding me.
posted by gramcracker at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2001

Amen, doug. Our local NPR station led yesterday with a story that an 8th grader had "made a threat" in school. There were no guns found at school, or at the kids home. The kid had said "I'm gonna shoot you" to a classmate, so the media (respectable media, even) led with it. This is hysteria, pure and simple. And it does much more harm than good. (See the other discussion that we recently had about this.)
posted by jpoulos at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2001

Apart from the signifcant issues about students' rights and the impact of schooling under security, I just don't see metal detectors as a practicable solution. A metal detector is expensive enough, but you also have to have someone to stand by it at all times. And you either have to have more than one or lock all the other entrances, which would make it difficult for EMT's or firefighters to enter the school in the event of an emergency. In any case, I think a kid who wanted to take a gun to school could probably find a way to get it past security.

Metal detectors may make sense in schools where there is a very high crime rate in the neighborhood, or where there's a history of kids bringing weapons to school. Overall, though, the number of students being shot by students is very low, so you'd be throwing a whole lotta money to save a very small number of lives. I don't know the numbers, but I'm sure that many, many more high schoolers die in drunk driving accidents or by suicide than by being shot by their classmates. It would seem to make more sense to attack those problems. You could save thousands of lives a year, rather than tens.

posted by anapestic at 11:23 AM on March 9, 2001

regarding uniforms: I went to a high school that had uniforms and it was great! I had 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts and I always knew what to wear. Going into college and having to actually think about wardrobe sucked. :-)

Also, there's plenty of opportunity to express individualism while wearing a uniform, be it your hair or your attitude, uniforms do not equal an army of clones.

That being said, I don't think uniforms are a great thing, and they sure as hell aren't a deterrent for behaviour the school would frown upon. I saw plenty of fights, I saw knives pulled (thankfully not used), I participated in drug use, all while in uniform.

Changing the surface issues may hide the underlying problems for a little bit longer, but you're more likely to have a few thousand students pissed off at their closest authority figures.

It'd be much more worthwhile to investigate why these outbreaks happen and see if there's any means of preventing them that don't include draconian conformity.
posted by cCranium at 11:26 AM on March 9, 2001

"We don't even have a gang problem."

Famous last words. Such a point-of-view was often heard around Little Rock, Arkansas in the late 80s and early nineties. Until, that is, in 1993 when LR had one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country. This from a small city with a metro-area population of around 500,000.

HBO even documented the Little Rock gang problem back in 1994.
posted by daveadams at 1:21 PM on March 9, 2001

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