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Are the Suburbs Really that Safe?

by Kristin Heines, co - Lifestyles Editor

I walked into my third period government class expecting to receive the same lectures I had listened to at the National Young Leaders' Convention. We had been told all about the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights, the Electoral College.yatta, yatta, yatta, right? This was no problem for me - After all, no one appreciates a good nap third period more than I do (Sorry, Rogge J). To my dismay (or perhaps satisfaction) I came out of Mr. Rogge's class in the mere second week of school with an inspiration. Here's my story in a highly condensed version:

Our debate started with a mild discussion about school safety. A student in my class (who'll remain anonymous) had a prejudiced comment to make after questioning whether s/he'd rather send his/her child to a "city" or suburban school. While some may have considered the remark completely out of line, we realized at the end of the day that a student in every class made a similar remark. Of course we'd rather send our children to suburban schools: everyone knows that city schools are dangerous. Right ?

Well, for your information, those of you who would choose to send your kids to a city school, your child has a much greater chance of being affected by a serious violent crime (i.e. rape, murder, or attack with weapons). 17% of city schools have at least one violent attack every year, versus only 5 to 8 % in rural and suburban schools.

Let's say you change your mind (or already had your mind made up on suburban schools). In the "burbs" your child is more likely to use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. It doesn't stop there, though, folks. Your child is also more likely to be involved in a robbery, and, because of the smaller size of the schools, s/he is also more likely to be involved in an act of violence. As a matter of fact, one in 143 students attending rural schools will be part of a violent confrontation within the next year! (For those of you who don't think that's a big deal, that would be six students at West Geauga High School this year.) I'm pleased to report that Mr. Mueller (who incidentally spent over 20 years working in the "city" schools) can only recall two serious incidents within his entire career! (that breaks down to 1/10 of an incident per year and 1/24 of what is expected). In retrospect, it seems as though you might have picked the more dangerous option.

So why are rural schools more dangerous than city schools? One possibility has been entertained by Psychologist Charles Ewing: kids in rural areas consider school a much greater part of their lives than kids in city schools. When they're not fitting in at school, it's as though they are not fitting life. This can lead to many more "traumatic" decisions as to how they handle their frustrations. Instead of solving their problems as they come, suburban and rural students tend to let them build up. The end result is a lot of frustration directed at their peers, which can create a lot more danger.

So the next time you're asked which school is safer, if you respond with "suburban," you're not alone. A survey conducted by a board of education found that most students feel their schools are safe. For instance, a student in a suburban school would claim that there are (seemingly) more small acts of violence in a city school. A student from a city school would claim that there's "nothing to do" in smaller towns, so students in rural schools occupy their time by plotting out revenge (citing boredom as an excuse for violence seems highly suspect, but it is happening).

The truth of the matter is that neither school is necessarily better than the other ! One type may have more problems controlling drugs, while the other may have more violent conflicts. But no matter where you may chose to send your children, they will not be guaranteed safety. We all have to be aware that no matter how much technology there is or how much we monitor what goes on between classes, every school can face a dilemma at any time.

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