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Schools should help students cope with Virginia Tech tragedy

Original post made by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, on Apr 24, 2007

With bomb threats and disturbing graffiti at high schools in Tracy and Pacifica just a week after the shooting tragedies at Virginia Tech, shouldn’t Pleasanton high schools do more to counsel students on campus risks. Today, the school district’s popular, dramatic attention-grabber “Every 15 Minutes” at Amador Valley High School vividly reminded students about the dangers of mixing alcohol (or drugs) with driving. But what about similar assemblies on the issues raised following the Virginia Tech shooting deaths of 32 students by Cho Seung-Hui, an apparently mentally disturbed student, who then killed himself? These might help alert high school students here to be more vigilant toward fellow students or those in their social circles who also show threatening characteristics. And, just as important, what to do if they do if they spot a Cho think-alike?

Certainly Cho wanted his message to reach classmates, not only at Virginia Tech, but everywhere, including Pleasanton. In his carefully orchestrated DVDs that he prepared in advance about his views of the society he lived in and even his execution plans, he made sure that others would hear and see his hatred. NBC, which received the DVDs, accommodated his wishes, not only airing the disks repeatedly on its own stations, but also sending them “free of charge” with the NBC icon boldly (and proudly?) emblazoned on the courtesy copies to other media. These aired during the week following the shooting, including much of last weekend, and can still be seen on You Tube and other Internet sites. Most students, even at the elementary school level, have seen them. If those visual tirades upset parents like me, might they also have had an even more impressionable impact on teens and those that are younger? Already, there have been reports of copycat attempts at other college campuses, although none successful.

But unless I’m mistaken, and I hope teachers and administrators will set the record straight if I’m wrong, there have been no scheduled discussions in our schools about the Virginia Tech tragedy. I think that’s a mistake. This is an opportunity for school counselors and outside psychologists to talk to students about Virginia Tech and what they should watch for on their own campuses here in Pleasanton and at college, where our seniors will be settling in just five months from now.

Jeb Bing

Comments (1)

Like this comment
Posted by Joey
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2007 at 4:39 pm

An assembly is not something the schools need to do in this case. People that do these rare kinds of violent acts always show certain signs. This case is no different. It sounds like just about every person who came in contact with this guy had a negative “sixth sense” feeling about him. People need to recognize what their natural six senses are telling them, and then act on them appropriately.

Instead of an assembly, which would likely not be listened closely by most of the students, I propose teachers during a set class period naturally bring up the topic. This will receive a better reception than students going to an assembly where the issue will be perceived as forced. During the discussion, the teachers should do little talking and let the students voice their opinions. This will allow the students to be engaged in the topic and feel apart of something. The one thing teachers should stress though is for students to not be afraid to speak up when their sixth sense kicks in.

In the end though, I agree the topic should be addressed – sooner rather than later.

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