PUNISHMENT FOR SCHOOL VIOLENCE
Punishment for SchoolViolence
Punishment for school violence
According to Bidwell (2014), 9% of teachers reported being threatenedwith injury by students in 2011. In the same year, 5% of teacherssaid that a student had physically attacked them (Bidwell, 2014).Additionally, more students are reporting being assaulted by theirschoolmates. Cases of school violence have attracted mixed reactionsfrom different stakeholders, particularly because most of theperpetrators are minors. Some people maintain that despite their age,those responsible for school violence should be treated as adultsconsidering their heinous acts. On the other hand, there are thosewho argue that there is a need to dig deep into the perpetrators’background to unearth the cause of their problem. The murder ofColleen Ritzer by one of the students in the school where she taughtis one example that demonstrates the extent of violence ininstitutions of learning. The district attorney held that a teenagerby the name Philip Chism was responsible for Ritzer’s murder andwas planning on proposing to the court that the boy be tried as anadult. However, Sanchez & Viltagllano (2013) report that Chism’sfather physically and emotionally abused him when he was a child.This paper argues that Philip Chism could have been suffering from amental disease because he experienced a violent childhood and this isevident in the manner in which the boy treated his victim.
In the first place, studies in delinquency reveal that most minorswho commit crimes hail from violent families (Carter, 2012). From thearticle by Sanchez and Viltagllano, one can learn that Chism’sfather physically and emotionally assaulted his family. Additionally,Chism’s father was absent in the boy’s life since he was twoyears old. Although Chism’s father was granted the right to visitthe boy, he could only do so under certain conditions. Research showsthat adolescents, particularly boys, are likely to be violent iftheir biological fathers were not present during their childhood. Cobb-Clark &Tekin (2014) report that the likelihood that anadolescent would exhibit any form of delinquent behaviors was 7.6%lower among boys who had their fathers present during theirchildhood. Cobb-Clark& Tekin (2014) argue that the presence of afatherly figure in a boy’s life has a protective impact on thechild’s behavior. Fathers influence their children’s attitudes,values, and preferences and boost their sense of self-esteem(Cobb-Clark &Tekin, 2014). It is evident that Philip Chism did notenjoy all the above benefits that accrue to children with fathers. Assuch, the boy lacked a role model, and this could have resulted inhis violent behaviors. Besides, Sanchez & Viltagllano in theirarticle did not mention that the Chism had any fatherly figure thatcould have replaced his absent biological father.
Besides having a violent childhood, it is evident that Chism wasbrought up in a dysfunctional family. The family is the strongestsocial unit and thus, it has the most profound impact on thebehaviors of individual members. Growing up in a violent familycould have impacted the boy’s mental health crowding his ability tomake rational decisions. This could have socialized him intoperceiving violence as a positive thing in the way it helped hisfather dominate him and his mother. According to Carter (2012),"domestic violence perpetrators sometimes intentionally injurechildren to intimidate and control their adult partners." Fromhis violent childhood, Chism must have internalized the view thatharming other people was the only way one can get what he/she wants.This could have resulted in the boy thinking that the only way hecould have resolved any conflict he may have had with Ms. Ritzer wasby physically and sexually assaulting her. As such, Chism was onlyreplicating the violence he had witnessed while he was a child andhence, Ms. Ritzer was only a casualty of the boy`s dysfunctionalchildhood.
Not only did Chism hail from a dysfunctional family, but also the boywitnessed his father abuse his mother emotionally and physically.According to Carter (2012), children who watch their mothers batteredtend to disrespect women. The boy must have come to view women asobjects of satisfaction. From the article, it is evident that Chism’smotive was not to steal from Ms. Ritzer as seen in the way hesexually assaulted her with an object. First, the act demonstratessome level of mental instability on the part of Chism. If the boy wasinterested in raping the teacher, he could have used his sexualorgans to do so. From the fact that he chose to use an object toachieve sexual satisfaction shows that he was slowly developingmental illness. Besides, Sanchez & Viltagllano (2013) report thatChism must have followed the teacher, and this demonstrates that itwas not an accident. Hence, it is possible that Chism may have beenfollowing the teacher for quite some time. Additionally, it ispossible that Chism had fantasized sexually assaulting the teacherfor a relatively long time and was only waiting for the rightcircumstance to present itself. Besides, Sanchez & Viltagllano(2013) report that one of the things that Chism stole from ColleenRitzer was her underwear. The situation surrounding the murder of theteacher depicts that the perpetrator was suffering from a mentalillness.
While one may argue that Chism was suffering from a mental illnesswhen committing the crime, the district attorney seems convinced thatChism was on his right mind. This is the reason the prosecutor isseeking to have the boy tried as an adult. The district attorney`spoint of view is that the boy is a murderer, a rapist, and a robber.It was alleged that the boy robbed the victim of her credit cards andiPhone. Besides, he was armed with a box cutter, and this makes him arobber. Additionally, the prosecutor thinks that Chism was also arapist from the fact that there were signs that the victim wassexually assaulted with an object. As such, from the prosecutor’spoint of view, justice was only possible if the boy was tried as anadult for him to face the full wrath of his heinous actions.According to the Public Broadcasting Service (2014), some peoplethink that that trying teen offender as adults provide a room forharsher punishment that is proportional to their crimes.Additionally, those who believe that teen such as Philip Chism shouldbe tried in adult courts argue the punishment upon conviction willresult in lowered juvenile crime rates. This is the same opinion heldby the district attorney handling Philip Chism case who said that theboy’s indictments on the charges of rape and armed robbery detailedhis horrific and unspeakable acts (Sanchez & Viltagllano, 2013).It is evident that the prosecutor handling Schism case was a strongproponent of the argument that juvenile delinquents plan theiractions the same way the adult offenders do. This is seen in the wayPhilip Chism had earlier brought a box cutter to the school, which heused to kill Colleen Ritzer. Additionally, the boy seemed to havemade attempts to conceal the victim’s body by dumping it into arecycling bin. This may be interpreted to mean that the boy was infull control of his mind, and thus it was only fair to try him as anadult.
While the district attorney is convinced that Chism committed thecrime, his point of view that justice for Colleen Ritzer could onlybe served if Chism was tried as an adult is faulty. The nature of thecrime alleged to have been committed by Chism demonstrates that theboy was experiencing some mental instability, and thus trying him asan adult was not the best way to handle the situation. It is evidentthat the boy suffered from a mental problem that can be traced fromhis violent childhood. While the victim`s family and the prosecutorthink that justice could only have been served if Chism faced thefull wrath of the law, such a move means that the government wouldhave committed injustice against the boy. According to Equal JusticeInitiative (2014), youths in America are going through abuse,domestic violence, poverty, and neglect. Equal Justice Initiative(2014) adds that without effective intervention, these childrenstruggle, suffer, and fall into hopelessness and despair. While someteenagers can manage the emotional, psychological and socialchallenges of adolescents, some are unable and end up engaging inviolent and destructive behaviors. This is the situation that Chismfound himself in after he was neglected by his father from a tenderage. Additionally, Sanchez & Viltagllano (2013) did not mentionthat Philip Chism received any intervention in terms of therapy andother programs that could have helped him deal with the possibleeffects of the emotional and physical abuse he experienced when hewas a child. Instead of serving justice, trying children in adultcourts serve to subject the kids to further abuse and victimization.This may result in their condition getting worse.
In conclusion, Philip Chism was accused of murdering, sexuallyassaulting, and stealing from Ms. Colleen Ritzer. The prosecutor inthe case argued that the boy ought to have been tried as an adult ifjustice for the murdered teacher was to be realized. Individuals whohold such opinion argues that trying teenagers who commit heinouscrimes as adults is the only way to achieve justice. Additionally,there is the argument that trying teenager suspects as adults serveto reduce the number of crimes committed by minors as they are warnedof harsher punishment. However, this paper has demonstrated thattrying the boy as an adult could have failed to address the cause ofhis action. Instead of making delinquent minors pay for theiractions, trying teenagers such as Chism as adults will serve tofurther subject them to emotional and psychological torture. This mayresult in the worsening of the mental condition facing manydelinquent youths upon getting harsh punishments or when they aremade to face the full wrath of the law. This paper maintains thatChism experienced a violent childhood with his father physically andemotionally abusing him. As a result, the boy must have come to viewviolence as the only way of getting what one wants. Besides, themanner in which it is alleged the boy treated the victim whencommitting the crime demonstrates that he was suffering from a mentalillness. This is evident in the act of sexually abusing the teacherusing an object and stealing her underwear.
Bidwell, A. (2014). “Report: School Violence and Violence Rise.”http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/06/10/incidents-of-school-crime-and-violence-on-the-rise-for-students-and-teachers
Carter, J. (2012). “Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and YouthViolence: Strategies for Prevention and Early Intervention.”http://www.mincava.umn.edu/link/documents/fvpf2/fvpf2.shtml
Cobb-Clark,D. A., & Tekin, E. (2014). Fathers and Youths` delinquentbehavior. Reviewof Economics of the Household, 12(2),327-358.
Equal JusticeInitiative. (2014). Children in Prison. Accessed fromhttp://www.eji.org/childrenprison
Public Broadcasting Service. (2014). “Juvenile Justice.”http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/juvenile/stats/kidslikeadults.html
Sanchez, R., & Viltagllano, B. (2013). “Massachusetts teenaccused of killing teacher indicted on murder, other charges.”http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/21/justice/massachusetts-danvers-school-killing-indictment/index.html?hpt=hp_t2