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11 Crim. Just. 22 (1996-1997)
Deadly Mix: Guns, School & Children - Experts Discuss the Crisis of Violence

handle is hein.journals/cjust11 and id is 24 raw text is: A Deadly Mix:
Guns, School & Children
Experts discuss the crisis of violence

-uns, Schools, and Children:
Imliatons of Zero Toler-
ance was a CLE presidential
showcase program at the
-_J American Bar Association's
Annual Meeting in Chicago
in August. It was jointly sponsored by the
Criminal Justice Section's Juvenile Justice
Committee, the Section of Litigation's
Task Force on Children, the Young
Lawyer's Division, the Section of Individ-
ual Rights and Responsibilities, the Steer-
ing Committee on the Unmet Legal
Needs of Children, and the Task Force
on Guns.
What follows are excerpts from the
panel discussion. Panel members in-
cluded: moderator Larry Marshall, edu-
cator Arnold Langberg, educator Ramon
Cortines, Isabel Wilkerson of The New
York Times, Deborah Leff of the Joyce
Foundation, Thomas Vanden Berk of the
Uhlich Children's Home, Stuart Simms
of Maryland's Department of Juvenile
Services, Judge Michael Corriero of the
New York Court of Claims, and Ran-
dolph Stone of the University of Chicago
Law School.
Panel discussion
Bernardine Dohrn, director of the
Children and Family Justice Center at
the Legal Clinic of Northwestern Uni-
versity School of Law in Chicago,
opened the panel discussion. Dohrn is
also a member of the ABA's Steering
Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs
of Children and was founder and co-
chair of the ABA's Section of Litigation's
Task Force on Children.
We are facing a crisis of violence
among our children in America, Dohm
noted. Every day in America, 15 young

people are killed by guns. That's as if in
two days a classroom of children disap-
peared from the United States.
Marshall: A teacher at the central
high school is teaching a history class,
and one day she notices a bunch of stu-
dents in the back corner of the room fo-
cusing attention on a fellow by the name
of Ray and around his desk in particular.
The teacher walks to the back of the
classroom to see what they are interested
in. She sees what looks like a small
handgun, which Ray is trying to hide in
the corner of his desk. She is not sure it's
real, but she is sure enough to be con-
cerned to try to do something to protect
the class, to protect herself, and to imple-
ment the policies of the school. The
teacher's instructions from the principal,
from the school system, and from the
Congress of the United States about
what to do in this situation are quite
clear. How much discretion does the
principal have? How do his [the stu-
dents] parents respond when they come
into the principal's office that day? Will
this 15-year-old boy, whose only crimi-
nal activity until now has been to bring
the gun to school, go into the juvenile
court system or the criminal justice sys-
tem? Before we get to punishment have
we already failed by the time that he has
the gun in that school? Has his school
failed him? Has his society failed him?
We tend to focus a lot of attention on
how to punish kids. But are we ignoring
the larger issue?
Mr. Langberg, you have been an edu-
cator for 40 years, Is there something
more meaningful, something earlier that
we should have done to keep Ray from
being in this position in the first place?
Largberg: I have had an experience

myself where a kid I knew brought a
loaded gun to school. I knew the kid
well enough to know that he didn't bring
it to school to show off or to prove any-
thing in school, but he had to walk
through an alien gang's territory to get to
and from school and he brought it to
protect himself. But in bringing it he en-
dangered everybody else. So, I had to,
and I would have chosen to, expel him.
That was only the beginning in treating
him. In many of our schools, the stu-
dents themselves are unknown to most
of the adults. And so we have to have
policies, rather than personal attention,
because we don't know the person with
whom we are dealing. That's an impor-
tant change I would like to see.
I made a distinction between an in-
sider and outsider in my school. We
knew our kids. We dealt with our kids by
name. But when an outsider came in,
then it was a police matter. We were
able to create a culture in which we took
care of ourselves internally. It took us
three years to develop that culture. The
first year if there was a fight, the other
kids would pour fuel on it. The second
year if there was a fight, the other kids
would run away. The third year if there
was a fight, the other kids broke it up.
Let me go back to your question
about prevention. I believe that what has
happened, in part, is that many of our
kids are coming to school without some
of the inner structures which I'd like to
believe most of us had when we were
kids. Because of the family changes, be-
cause of moving-so the neighborhood
and community doesn't play a major
role--many of our kids are getting their
moral education from watching televi-
sion. One of the things I tried to do, and

Criminal Justice


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