You can learn a lot by staying up late and watching a scary movie. In my case, I had decided to watch the 1931 horror classic Frankenstein late one Saturday night. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this old film that didn’t use computer generated images to make the film believable. Real people relied on acting skills and elaborate sets to make a movie audiences in that day couldn’t divert their eyes from. However, it was not the Boris Karloff film playing on my television that taught me something new. It was a commercial that came on during the movie that offered me some new information I couldn’t wait to share with my readers.
Ever since 14 year-old Barry Loukaitis, in 1996, used two pistols and a rifle to kill two of his fellow students and a teacher at his middle school in Moses Lake, Washington, there has been story after tragic story of campus violence. There is now a national hotline and website dedicated to preventing future school shootings. PaxUSA.org is working to spread the message that it is time for teens who believe their school may be in danger of gun violence, or any other type of assault, to speak up. In fact, that is the name of their campaign to make such terrible news stories disappear from our airwaves – SPEAK-UP.
PaxUSA.org has produced some amazing commercials dedicated to spreading the message that in 4 out of 5 school shootings the perpetrators told someone what they were about to do. Students are then encouraged to speak up, and a phone number (1-866-SPEAK-UP) is displayed for them to memorize. The commercials make it clear that students need to be on guard and ready to act when necessary, letting someone know when a possible tragedy is about to occur.
The Bible tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NIV), so unless we are planning to inflict injury upon ourselves, I’m convinced God wants us to protect those around us from harm. Keeping silent when we hear new of impending violence is not “loving our neighbor” the way we should. Adding to that call to do what’s righteous in God’s eyes, it is the job of everyone, including administrators, teachers, students, and parents to keep our schools a safe place for everyone who works, visits, and learns at any given campus.
We do not need any more tragedies like Columbine or Virginia Tech, and I personally believe PaxUSA .org is on the right track with its campaign to end violence on school campuses. Please take the time to investigate the SPEAK-UP campaign and encourage your school to participate. And perhaps, late at night, while watching a fictional horror movie, you’ll come to appreciate the way you have educated yourself on how to stop a real horror from taking place at your school.