High school low

Mallory Nelson is a junior at Galena High School.

Something has gone horribly wrong, and no one wants to take responsibility. In my generation, kids are killing kids in school. They are being shot down by the little boy nobody liked. Judge. Jury. Executioner. In the ground zero of middle class suburbia, something has short-circuited in young, white males, and they’re letting us know.

Is all this a product of a culture with a penchant for violence and the glorification of masculine strength? Or have we missed the boat in raising our young males to become happy, well-adjusted men? I don’t know for sure, as if anyone really does. I’m just an observer who attends classes at ground zero every day.

Politicians and parents are having a field day. The media is the perfect alibi—Eminem and television as the cause of their sons’ violent rampages, instead of their parenting.

Of course, this isn’t about parenting. It’s about a lack of parenting. Where were they when Johnny wanted to talk but just couldn’t find the words to bring justice to his pain? Where were they when Johnny came home crying from school and hid in his room, because it’s wrong for men to cry? Where were they when Johnny loaded the gun?

Parents hate hearing this, because it means getting over their Baby Boomer, materialistic, it’s-all-about-me attitude. It means opening their eyes to what’s going on at home when they’re not around, which is quite frequently.

My generation is going to have to start shouldering the responsibility for the monster it has created as well. In this high school world that worships strength, conformity and the superficial, some boys are falling through the cracks.

The difficulties in crossing over from childhood to adulthood are nothing new or special. What is new? The easy escapes of sex, booze, drugs and violence that are marketed to us nonchalantly every day. What is new is an adolescent culture that finds anyone who could be considered “different” to be a traitor to the species. Be anything—but never yourself—should be our high schools’ mottos.

Something has gone seriously wrong. Boys that come from prosperous, middle class homes are feeling angry, dispossessed and who knows what else. They do not know where they fit in or who they even are. Worse yet, they refuse to take responsibility and make an effort to find out.

A place once assured in society for the white male has now had its foundations rocked by the civil rights and feminist movements. Gender roles are becoming ambiguous. Yet the traditional message persists that real men must take what is not given them. Perhaps these individuals feel that to shoot first and ask questions later will make their place in this world more concrete.

Ultimately, the responsibility of these horrible and cowardly acts must fall on the individual. Violence does not give you anything except a cell and a large cellmate named Bubba who’s feeling a little lonely. If you thought you were picked on in high school, you haven’t seen anything yet.