What’s Changed?

Alexa VanHooser, Editor-in-Chief

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High school isn’t the same as it was. This statement doesn’t come from a place of bittersweet longing, but rather, a desire for change.

Spewing the narrative that violence – be it verbal or physical – catalyzes under the influence of mental illness or gory video games doesn’t ultimately solve anything. Packagers slap parent-mandated content warning stickers on games and move on. The difference in the contemporary educational setting lies in the fact that teenagers grow used to the borderline-militarization and exposure to violence not solely from video games, but society as a whole; consoles turn off at some point, but the world around us never does. Bombarded by the commonality of school shootings  and generalized violence towards others, barbaric behavior rarely come as a shock to any of us. In fact, the commonality of such uninhibited displays of violence cause most to skim through articles until two pressing questions are answered: “Where?” and “How many?”

Such a “scoreboard” mentality contributes to the fact that instead of viewing nonviolent intervention as the best option for remedying societal ills, our politicians further militarize the very notion of what it means to be a teenager. We throw more guns into the mix rather than taking a step back. Teenagers, on the other hand, bear the expectation of unraveling the next great solution to the generations of oppression and wickedness already set in motion.

Even in our own community, the commonality of gun ownership correlates with the cowboy stereotype associated with us.

What reason have we given spectators to think otherwise?

It’s hard not to parallel our situation with the lawlessness and antiquity of the Old West when we preserve such outdated projections of what we view as integral to our community. Good, old-fashioned American football can only get our reputation so far – we sure know how to throw a leather ball across a field, but we’re oblivious to dealing with the sensitivities of minority groups in our community. Students expound the narrative of the comparative worthlessness of their African-American counterparts are not only slapped on the wrist, but eventually welcomed back into the community once the scrutiny of the media has shifted to a more recent atrocity. The majority willingly ignores the glaring intersection between social, representative, and tangible safety teenagers necessitate in order to grow both physically and intellectually.

Threats of physical violence find themselves not only appropriately dealt with, but rejected among the community. We see no gray area in what was protected under the First Amendment, what was done in private.

Nor should we.

In order to leave our lasso at the door, however, we need to learn what it means to be truly accountable and inclusive as a campus. A group of students on campus have already attempted to expand the definition of protection in our own community by posting optimistic messages around campus so as to bolster the idea that school itself is a place where students should feel safe. We can’t leave that burden on them. It is our responsibility as Clovis High School students, staff members, and parents to preserve this feeling of security beyond the classroom.

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What’s Changed?