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Baal

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So, I was writing a short essay and felt it would be a good conversation starter.

This thread will be for the discussion of social/societal issues in the world today, and with the age range of our members, I expect some conflicting views.

Keep it civil in here

 

Rising Violence: Where We Went Wrong

 

Children are murdering children and it is our fault. While total incidents of violence in schools has steadily decreased, the number of fatal incidents has spiked dramatically. Including sizable dips in the ‘09 to ‘11 school years, the number of shootings in schools resulting in fatalities has trended upwards at an alarming rate. There are many contributing factors, the most commonly cited being an increase in violent media. This is far from the only factor at play and far from the largest, but it is the easiest for all stages of authority, from parents to lawmakers, to attack as it absolves them from nearly all culpability allowing for simultaneous shaking of fists and washing of hands. It is infinitely easier to blame Call of Duty and its ilk than it is to examine the societal causes which we all have a hand in. There are several massive contributors to the rising tide of blood in our school districts that either parallel or closely predate the climbing trend of fatal shootings. The increase in both number and accessibility of hate groups, the demonizing of contact sports and other healthy aggressive outlets, and somewhat counterintuitively, the prevalence of harsher anti-bullying policies are easily the greatest offenders.

    A quick glance at the headlines on any given day highlights the disturbing reality that hate groups of all varieties are getting more time in the spotlight than they have since the civil rights movement. Their ideologies vary greatly, with some focusing on race, others on gender politics, some on people’s sexuality, and still more railing against anyone that does not fit their rigidly defined ideals. An overwhelming number share one commonality: they skew heavily towards young men, playing on their insecurities and naturally aggressive tendencies. This section of the population is also, almost exclusively, the perpetrators of gun violence in schools. While defending First Amendment rights is a hill that I will happily die on, a line has to be drawn when people are using our freedom of speech to infer that the best solution to a social or racial difference is extermination. This is an issue that falls to our elected officials, requiring them to potentially alienate a voting base to protect our most at-risk youths. Until we have a crop of politicians willing to upset people to do what needs done, this problem will continue to rise.

     Historically, these angry young men had outlets for their aggression that also taught teamwork, a work ethic, and tolerance. However with more and more research coming to light about the dangers of concussions and micro-concussions, schools are slowly phasing out tackle football programs. Wrestling is still around and going strong, but boxing programs are firmly a thing of the past. When I was in school, we had a coach who worked with security staff and our administrators to mediate disputes that turned violent. His solution, which worked marvelously was to take the two parties into our wrestling gym, hand them gloves and headgear, and box a round or two. After burning through their initial anger, instead of stewing in it, many times the students were able to get along. I was, and still am to a lesser extent, an angry, angry person, and can say from experience, this worked. In today’s social climate, that coach would be fired the first time he tried it. It has been proven time and again, that we are a violent, aggressive species, males substantially moreso. Removing healthy outlets for that aggression, especially at an age where impulse control is laughable, can have nothing but negative repercussions. Sports injuries are unfortunate and should be minimized as much as possible, but I would take a thousand concussed teenagers over one gunning down classmates.

     Lastly, and easily the most controversial point raised here, zero tolerance style policies are ultimately harmful to our youth. Bullying happens. It has always happened. It always will happen. There is nothing we can do, short of lobotomizing the entirety of our population, to stop it. With that in mind, lesser instances of bullying, such as shoving and name calling, act as necessary learning tools for children to grow into adults. Working as an immunization of sorts, these smaller acts allow people to develop defense and coping mechanisms which help substantially when a more egregious case occurs. This fact is thrown into especially stark relief when internet culture is taken into account, with the truly hateful things people will say from the anonymity of a keyboard. Cyber bullying has grown into one of the leading causes of teen suicide, and without the experience gained from these smaller negative interactions will continue to be a problem. Throwing an entirely unprepared child into a situation that triggers the fight or flight reflex with no previous frame of reference is a recipe for disaster. We have to be able to step back and let kids learn to handle themselves in difficult situations without rushing to defend them against the slightest of slights. This may be hard for some parents, but in a similar vein to my above statement, a thousand, even ten thousand kids with a black eye or hurt feelings is infinitely preferable to one in a casket.

    Between organizations claiming that extreme violence is the answer, a lack of a healthy, structured outlet for natural aggressive tendencies, and the fact that we are emotionally stunting our youth, it is no surprise that the severity, and ultimately, the fatality of school violence is climbing, These are situations that we created and are trying desperately to absolve ourselves of responsibility when we could be working to correct them. Electing officials with strong anti-hate records will mitigate the growth of intolerant ideologies among our youth. Developing more effective safety gear, rather than scrapping contact sports entirely allows kids to work through anger constructively. Accepting that bullying is an inescapable reality, and one that breeds emotionally capable young adults without rushing to the rescue when an unkind word is spoken lets children learn how to acquit themselves in trying times. The most important takeaway is that whatever route we decide to take, we need to stop blaming things beyond our control and work to correct the problems that we caused.

Edited by MadCast: Baal

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Our ideologies are pretty similar. In a lot of today's problems, there really aren't a lot of concrete solutions or logic behind most abhorrent behaviors we are witnessing.. which leads to a lot of secondary blaming and bickering (i.e. guns) that do not solve the primary problem.

 

In a world where everything is accessible and the focus is on perfection and a divine happiness that we can share to the world via instagram, we have opened the wormhole to infinitely more letdowns, self-consciousness,  and desires for social acceptance. Coupled with our societal umbrella of everyone wins, the coping skills for dealing with disappointment are disappearing. This leads to  a mentality of "bring others down to your level".

In addition, our diets, medicines, and wealth of knowledge bring a heavy burden along with the benfits. 

TL;DR our basic human instincts have a hard time unlocking today's world and it's causing some major breakdowns.

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In the anecdote you bring up, Baal, did the children in question actually deal with the issues between them, or did they get a rush of dopamine and endorphins from 30 seconds of violent exertion?  I've had to manually restrain my fair share of angry adolescents, and there is a false peace that comes from the chemical rush our bodies release after a period of intense physical exertion.  Sometimes that's all you need to bring back stability, but is it really establishing a skillset of impulse control?

 

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Most of the time, at least in school, the issue is something minor. Letting out the temporary anger keeps you from sitting and stewing.

Impulse control is extremely important, but with the level of immaturity associated with having yet to mature, kids don't know how to step back and look at a situation before acting. That is a skill they need to learn, but until they do, there needs to be stopgap.

After breaking down the history leading up to most mass school shootings, it comes to light that there wasn't any one inciting incident. Instead the children (because they are still children) had suffered a long string of events. Each one on its own would be a minor annoyance, but when you never get to work through the feelings they bring up, letting it simmer until it boils over, that's when these situations occur.

Edited by MadCast: Baal

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On 4/25/2019 at 1:24 PM, MadCast: Baal said:

Until we have a crop of politicians willing to upset people to do what needs done, this problem will continue to rise.

The irony is that the politicians who continue to be elected will passively upset those of us with the insight to realize that freedom of speech isn't an excuse for inciting hate crimes.

On 4/25/2019 at 3:20 PM, MadCast: Usefully Useless said:

the focus is on perfection and a divine happiness that we can share to the world via instagram, we have opened the wormhole to infinitely more letdowns, self-consciousness,  and desires for social acceptance

This is an incredibly important point, especially amongst teens who almost entirely rely on the acceptance of their peers while discovering what kind of person they are. I have a long-storied history with bullying that transcended to even exist among some teachers and administration. I remember one of the biggest facilitators of my early depression was the immense desire to belong and feel like I fit in, instead of sticking out and being an easy target. It's a basic social need and being ostracized jeopardizes one's ability to properly process their anger and other emotions later in life. I still struggle at times to understand how others react to things, especially when meeting new people.

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Its amazing, because you don't even see fights in schools like you used to. They skip that step. This year only had 1 fight in the high school I work at, which is considerably lower than I remember when I was in school. 

 

As a side note, we have armed teachers in our schools here, and the un-armed teachers have "Long Range" pepper spray guns. I don't know which teachers have guns, and don't want to know. Nothing about our day to day has changed at all. The guns are locked in safes in the classrooms, and outside of the first day the students saw the black boxes, its been a non-issue. It's been easy, and so far successful for us. I wish there wasn't even a though of it being necessary, but I do suggest it as a method of prevention. 

Hopefully we never have to open the black boxes. Hopefully just the knowledge that they are present prevents future issues. 

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What are we talking about here?  Are we talking about behavioral management and growth of children, or are we talking about firearm violence and policy reactions to it?

I have thoughts on both, and while I certainly recognize they intersect, perhaps we should take them separately at first. 

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As far as the essay it's more on the emotional growth of children, but I am not against the discussion veering. Merely posted the essay as a starting point.

@MadCast: VoShay the numbers referencing fatal school shootings and the growth of hate groups in number and visibility come from publicly available records and the SPLC respectively.

@MadCast: CoachRivers I know. we used to solve things with some shoving, maybe a few punches and moving on. But with today's rules, many times both students receive harsh punishments including expulsion with no regard given to who threw the first punch or who/what caused the altercation in the first place.

and @MadCast: Munsa my contention is that if a stopgap measure prevents fatalities, then it is a valid solution. We learn control and coping as we age and mature. Prior to that, we don't know how to compartmentalize and work though issues in a reasonable manner. Without burning that anger off, it sits and simmers.

Edited by MadCast: Baal

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Cynical as I am, I'm not immune to the sympathetic tremors of tragedy.  I keenly recognize the desire to preserve life, but I am just as aware that in order to prescribe reform upon a society it takes a great amount of care.  

I don't think that we have fully acknowledged cultural forces on children.  Violent video games are a small slice of the coded violence that children are exposed to.  The language that persons of authority (from parents to politicians) use and they actions they take condition children toward poor impulse control and violent problem solving far more than video games.

Tangent: If we are going to reference video game violence and violent messaging, I would posit that we need to differentiate between the types of messages that games can provide.  The Division 2 drapes itself in the second amendment as a framing device, Undertale represents the consequences of an "Evil" run via intentional frustrating gameplay, The Missing and countless other titles deal with suicide (among other social issues), and DOOM2016 is a grindhouse spectacular that takes violence and gore to and beyond Evil Dead levels of slapstick.

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Not a single mention of fatherless homes and freely available psychoactive prescription medications. 

Also politicians aren't EVER going to fix a single thing. They just make the problems worse, or best case scenario static.

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