Shooting concerns prospective teachers

Anna Conover

The recent shooting death of a Michigan schoolgirl has shocked many Americans, but it especially raises the eyebrows of elementary education majors, who may have to deal with the threat of violence in their own classrooms in the future.

Kayla Rolland, the 6-year-old victim, was reportedly shot in front of classmates and teachers by a boy from her class. Reports say he was only trying to scare her, and he found the gun on his uncle’s bed. The boy’s father was serving time in jail.

“I think it is sad,” said Melissa Laukkonen, senior in elementary education. “I think that it is a lack of parenting. Parents need to open their eyes and take responsibility for their kids.”

Heidi DeVries, junior in early childhood education, is student teaching at Moore Elementary School in Des Moines and said the death wasn’t mentioned at school. She said how to deal with gun violence and other types of disturbing behavior should be taught to prospective teachers.

“We don’t get taught how to deal with the situation at all,” DeVries said. “It’s not taught to us, and since it is occurring more often, we should be taught how to deal with it.”

Laukkonen said the increase in gun violence scares her a lot, and she agrees that classes in dealing with school violence should be required for teachers — not just courses on teaching methods.

“There needs to be a classroom management course or a series of courses,” she said. “I don’t know if that would help with things like [gun violence], but in other aspects, like classroom behavior and what they are allowed to do and not to do in class.”

Brad Bushman, associate professor of psychology, has done research on violence and aggression. He said he believes the increase in school violence is due to the accessibility of guns.

“I think when guns are accessible, people use them,” Bushman said. “You never hear about drive-by kicking or drive-by slapping.”

Bushman said it’s not just the accessibility of guns causing the increase in school shootings; the media should also shoulder some of the blame.

“Violence is glorified in the mass media, and we’re exposed to violence in the mass media,” he said. “Young people are highly influenced by violence in mass media.”

Laukkonen said she is not sure why there have been so many school shooting recently, but she suggested it might be connected to what goes on in the children’s homes and what parents teach their children about violence.

“It probably has something to do with society as well,” she added.

DeVries said she wished gun violence was not an issue in elementary schools because young children do not yet have a comprehension of the power of guns.

“There shouldn’t be an issue with kids having guns, and they shouldn’t be able to have them around because people that age don’t have a clue,” she said. “I teach first-graders and they don’t have a clue; it’s just what they see on television.”