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Pop-Up Post: The Bad Teacher

Classroom incident

This history teacher is history himself, at least at Gateway High School (courtesy of Andrew Swope)

Want to see what happens when a high school teacher reaches his breaking point and lashes out at a student?

As if this kind of thing never happens.

Check out the latest video from Gateway High School in St. Louis, Missouri. It is truly disturbing and can be found HERE, along with the original news story.

Basically, 16-year-old Stephanie White told her history teacher that she preferred to attend some other class where they were showing a movie. This apparently didn’t go over well and an argument ensued, one that ended with White‘s teacher slamming a desk on the ground and shoving her into some other desks nearby.

As is normally the case, the whole altercation was caught on video by another student who was quick on the draw with his cell phone. I can only assume it has found its way onto YouTube as well, though I didn’t look for it there.

The teacher was, of course, placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. And police may charge both White and her stressed-out teacher for the incident, although no details have been released yet.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people allow their emotions to get the best of them in situations where they know others will witness their bad behavior. And though I have no idea what prompted this attack—aside from the whole “let me watch a flick in some other class” thing—it is possible that White was behaving badly, too.

The difference is that when you’re a teacher, you have to learn to deal with this sort of thing because it happens a lot. And to me, the best approach—if you’re not getting through to a disruptive or annoying student—is simply to kick them out and/or send them to the principal’s office.

Collectively, we all want to bring an end to school violence, especially given all the shootings recently. There’s even talk of arming teachers with handguns and training them to handle violent situations, including active shooters on campus. But I ask you this: What might this teacher have done if he was packing a gat?

I shudder at the thought. And I hope stories like this will convince the “powers that be” that when it comes to guns in schools, the best approach is to ban them altogether. Otherwise, things could get much, much worse.

UPDATE: It was just reported that the history teacher responsible for this unwarranted attack—33-year-old Peter J. Sheppard—has been charged with third-degree assault. Thankfully, though, no charges were filed against the student. I think she’s been through enough, to be sure.

Columbine Inspires Student

Acord wanted to “one up” Columbine (courtesy of ABC News)

In 1999, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold marched into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado with guns, ammunition and homemade bombs, intent on killing as many people and destroying as much property as possible. And by the time the smoke cleared and the young gunmen lay dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, they had done just that.

A total of 13 people died in the attack and another 24 were injured. Counseling for victims was needed and the school itself sustained somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million worth of damage. The price tag for everything that happened that fateful day?

Roughly $20 million + emotional trauma for years—maybe decades—to come.

It’s hard to believe something like this could happen in America—even though more recent events have carried larger body counts and more extensive damage (see Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook)—but what’s worse is that Columbine also served as inspiration for another emotionally-disturbed student.

His target: West Albany High School (courtesy of KOIN 6 News)

17-year-old Grant Acord attends West Albany High School in Albany, Oregon. And on Thursday evening, he was arrested for planning to bomb his school in true Columbine fashion, only with additional planning to make this massacre more successful than the Harris-Klebold attack.

Acting on information they received that “associated Acord with manufacturing a destructive device with the intent of detonating it at a school,” police apprehended the young man, searched his home and discovered a secret compartment underneath the floorboards in his bedroom.

Inside the compartment were several different types of explosives, including pipe/drain cleaner bombs, Molotov cocktails and homemade napalm. Basically enough explosives to wreak serious havoc and hurt a lot of innocent people.

Acord will now be charged “as an adult with attempted aggravated murder,” according to District Attorney John Haroldson. He will also face charges related to making bombs and possessing deadly weapons with the purpose of using them against others.

Is it me, or do they have a long, drawn-out name for every possible criminal charge?

Anyway, Albany police are now spending their Memorial Day with bomb-sniffing dogs at the high school, trying to clear it of any danger before students return on Tuesday.

Harris and Klebold during their attack on Columbine (courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department)

And how bizarre will that be—returning to school after a holiday weekend only to realize it could have been your last Memorial Day had Acord’s plan not been foiled?

I shudder at the thought.

Of course, what I find especially disturbing isn’t the fact that another misguided teenager plotted to attack his school; it’s that he used a previous attack—in this case Columbine—not only as inspiration, but also as a launching point for his own improved attack.

What this means is that somewhere in America, another teenager is hearing about Acord’s plan and trying to find a way to improve upon it, too.

Oh God. I hope this article didn’t give anyone ideas…

Adam Lanza and the Search for Motive

Adam Lanza

Adam Lanza looking like a killer (courtesy of NBC/AP)

Details about the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer Adam Lanza continue to emerge as people struggle to make sense of this horrible tragedy. And the same question seems to be on everyone’s mind.

What led this young man to commit such a heinous crime?

In an effort to understand Lanza’s motive for killing his mother, school administrators, young children and eventually himself, investigators and reporters are interviewing everyone who knew the disturbed youth and his mother, Nancy Lanza.

Bob Skupa is a barber in Newtown who cut Adam Lanza’s hair for five years. He remembers Adam as being a shy, quiet and strange boy who rarely spoke. In fact, when Skupa would ask questions to try to spark a conversation with him, it was Adam’s mother who would respond.

When each haircut was complete, Nancy would grab Adam by the arm and yank him up. “It’s time to go, Adam.” And he always obeyed.

Incidentally, Skupa wishes that he had done something while he had Adam in his barber chair. “I wish I would have killed him then,” he recently told reporters. “It would’ve saved all those kids and parents the trouble.”

People who knew Nancy Lanza well have also been speaking to the media. Most describe her as an outgoing, likeable and generous woman who also collected guns and liked taking her sons shooting. However, they all make a point to mention that Nancy was very responsible with regard to gun safety.

If this is true, then shouldn’t her weapons and ammunition have been locked up and out of reach of her troubled son? I’m not accusing her of being irresponsible, especially since the poor woman was murdered, but it does seem odd.

The latest insight into Adam Lanza’s possible motive came from a lifelong family acquaintance, 25-year-old Joshua Flashman. He grew up near Sandy Hook Elementary School and knew the Lanza family well.

According to Flashman, Nancy Lanza was in the process of having Adam committed to a psychiatric facility. And he was not happy about it.

“Adam was aware of her petitioning the court for conservatorship and (her) plans to have him committed,” said Flashman. “Adam was apparently very upset about this. He thought she just wanted to send him away. From what I understand, he was really, really angry. I think this could have been it, what set him off.”

Adam’s mother Nancy (courtesy of Facebook)

Flashman also mentioned how Nancy frequently volunteered with kindergarteners at Sandy Hook and how Adam “believed she cared more for the children than she did for him.”

Since Adam killed his mother first and in such a violent fashion, shooting her four times in the head while she slept, I am inclined to believe this motive. Shooting those young children was likely another way for Adam to lash out at his mother, destroying those she cared for the most.

Flashman also told Fox News that Nancy was close friends with the school principal and psychologist, both of whom were killed by Adam in the massacre.

Toss in the fact that Adam was the product of divorce and cut off communication with his father several years ago and the picture becomes even clearer: disturbed young man, mental problems, broken home, gun enthusiast… the pieces of the puzzle keep falling into place.

Of course, none of this evidence means anything since the only person who truly knew Adam’s motive was Adam, and he’s no longer with us. All we can do is speculate and try to prevent these same sorts of issues from affecting other young people. I’m certain that we will never be 100% successful, but even saving one life is worth the effort.

Thank God It’s Not Friday

China slashing

The attacker was caught on video (courtesy of Reuters)

Last Friday, Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and murdered 27 people in cold blood before taking his own life. As we all know by now, most of Lanza’s victims were children between the ages of 6 and 7.

What people may not know is that another horrible attack took place the same day in the village of Chenpeng in central China. That’s when 36-year-old Min Yongjun, a clearly disturbed man who also suffers from epilepsy, entered an elementary school wielding a kitchen knife and proceeded to stab, cut and slash 23 students, including 7 first-graders.

The night before, Yongjun beat his parents and children, wandered the streets, broke into an elderly woman’s home and stabbed her several times. Around 7 a.m. the following morning, he headed for the school.

According to local police, Yongjun was some kind of doomsday fanatic who wanted to “do things to impress the world of his existence” before the world came to an end on December 21st. This is the day the Mayan calendar supposedly identified as the end of the world, although experts around the globe have discounted it.

Friday was a terrible day for children both here in the U.S. and abroad. Let’s hope that this Friday passes by uneventfully.

6-year-old beats up his gym teacher

The Tiny Terror (courtesy of the New York Post)

School violence seems to be on the increase in every corner of our nation. From shooting to bullying, there appears to be no end to the damage our young people can inflict upon themselves and their victims.

One such victim is John Webster, a 27-year-old gym teacher at PS 330 in Queens, New York. I should also mention that Webster is a former college football player who stands at 5’10” and weighs in at 220 pounds.

According to Webster, the trouble started as he was escorting several students to the cafeteria, including 6-year-old Rodrigo Carpio. Webster attempted to hold Carpio by the wrist when the child started to bite him. He took Carpio to the principal’s office to be disciplined and the mean-spirited youngster kicked Webster in the ankle and the knee, which made a distinct popping sound.

Webster is now wearing a brace on his right leg and has been seeing a therapist to deal with what he calls an “embarrassing and humiliating nightmare.”

Carpio, referred to as a “tiny terror” by Webster’s lawyer, is no stranger to violence and aggression. In addition to attacking his gym teacher, Carpio has also kicked his principal and pinched a number of others, including a security officer.

Carpio may only weigh in at 50 pounds, but I strongly suggest someone turn this kid on to boxing. We just might have the next heavyweight champ on our hands!

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