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Weapons in schools a sign of bigger problem in Richmond

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News sources on Wednesday reported weapons violations in four Richmond area schools have shown a shocking increase in the past several years, a sign of a bigger underlying problem in our culture.

Following up on the stabbing of a student at the Henderson Middle School on Tuesday, an investigation into the Virginia Department of Education's "School Repot Card" for the past three years has reveled that with the exception of four schools, most schools in the Richmond-metro area have had "zero" incidents of weapon offenses.

The schools include Fred D. Thompson, Henderson, and Lucille M. Brown in Richmond, and Falling Creek in Chesterfield. The VDOE website's safety section of middle school report cards shows that Henderson Middle School reported 25 weapon offenses over the past three years.

Additionally, over the past three years, Fred D. Thompson and Lucille M. Brown Middle Schools reported 28 weapons violations. But looking further into the safety reports on Richmond's middle schools, the number of incidents of "disruptive behavior" are way over and above acceptable levels for any school.

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) reported 11,997 school safety violations system-wide last year, 7,776 of which were for Disorderly or Disruptive Behavior Offenses.

One middle school, Martin Luther King Middle School, was the site of 25.6 percent, or 3,082 of all the safety violations, and 32.6 percent, or 2539 of all incidents of disorderly or disruptive behavior offenses.

Disruptive behavior and disorderly conduct may not seem to be a big deal to many parents, but constant trips to the principal's office are the extent of disciplinary actions taken in most cases. The student is then sent back to the classroom. It has been found that the behavior is then repeated, leading to almost constant disruption of the teaching process.

Disrespect, abusive language, disorderly conduct and threatening behavior seems to be the norm today, and punishment is almost totally lacking, other than the "virtual" slap on the wrist. If we think that young people aren't aware of this, we are sadly mistaken, and that is the biggest misconception of all.

Until respect for others, and a real, workable system of conduct is enforced in our schools, students will continue to keep classrooms under siege.



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