Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review - Rachel's Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott

10 years ago, the world watched in horror as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris commenced a shooting spree at Columbine High School that became the worst school shooting event to date. Rachel Scott was their first victim, shot outside the school as she was eating lunch with a friend. Rachel's Tears is her parents' tribute to their beloved daughter - her story, told in recollections and memories, as well as pictures and excerpts from the many diaries she kept before her death.

Rachel was a young girl with a deep faith in God, and this shines through in her diary entries. Her father talks about raising a mystic, and I think the comparison is certainly valid. Rachel seemed to have a connection with God that went deeper than just faith. She almost seemed to experience God on a different level than other people - her visions and premonitions about the things to come in her own life were extraordinary.

I think it would be hard to read this book and not be touched. Rachel's parents' deep love and sorrow come through every page, and yet their commitment to keep her life from being in vain brings such a sense of hope to this book. Her father has created a foundation, called Rachel's Challenge, to encourage high school students to bring a positive attitude to their schools. It is wonderful to see such a positive initiative result from such great sorrow.

In his introduction to Rachel's Tears, Wes Yoder says this about the Columbine tragedy: "Every generation seems to lose its innocence, in one way or another, at the wrong time. For this generation, no loss had ever been more personal or come with such devastating finality." This books illustrates, in heartbreaking detail, just how personal and devastating that loss was. I think Rachel Scott will be remembered long after her death, and hopefully, her challenge will help others in the years to come.

Finished: 4/30/09
Source: Thomas Nelson Blogging for Books
Rating: 7/10


Liyana said...

It just seems so sad. :x

John Byrnes said...

We can and must prevent these shootings:

Research has determined that from the Moment of Commitment (the point when a student pulls their weapon) to the Moment of Completion (when the last round is fired) is only 5 seconds. If it is the intent of a school district to react to this violence, they will do so over the wounded and/or slain bodies of students, teachers and administrators.

Educational institutions clearly want safe and secure schools. Administrators are perennially queried by parents about the safety of their schools. The commonplace answers, intended to reassure anxious parents, focus on the school resource officers and emergency procedures. While useful, these less than adequate efforts do not begin to provide a definitive answer to preventing school violence, nor do they make a school safe and secure.

Traditionally school districts have relied upon the mental health community or local police to keep schools safe, yet one of the key shortcomings has been the lack of a system that involves teachers, administrators, parents and students in the identification and communication process. Recently, colleges, universities and community colleges are forming Behavioral Intervention Teams with representatives from all these constituencies. Higher Education has changed their safety/security policies, procedures, or surveillance systems, yet K-12 have yet to incorporate Behavioral Intervention Teams. K-12 schools continue spending excessive amounts of money to put in place many of the physical security options. Sadly, they are reactionary only and do little to prevent aggression because they are designed exclusively to react to existing conflict, threat and violence. These schools reflect a national blindspot, which prefers hardening targets through enhanced security versus preventing violence with efforts directed at aggressors. Security gets all the focus and money, but this only makes us feel safe, rather than to actually make us safer.

Some law enforcement agencies use profiling as a means to identify an aggressor. According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education’s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between “profiling” and identifying and measuring emerging aggression; “The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or – once a student has been identified – for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.” It continues; “An inquiry should focus instead on a student’s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.” We can and must assess objective, culturally neutral, identifiable criteria of emerging aggression.

For a comprehensive look at the problem and its solution,
Continue the dialogue:

Elizabeth said...

Liyana - it's tragic.