In the wake of last week’s first fatal shooting inside a Toronto high school, everybody is asking the same basic questions: Who would want to shoot 15-year-old Jordan Manners, and why would the shooter have chosen to do so inside his high school in broad daylight?
At the moment, there are few answers — police have charged two teens with murder, no gun has been found, and few people seem to be talking. The omnipresent “no snitching” code of the streets seems to be in full effect.
I’m not surprised. If you suspected that someone with whom you might have contact had fatally shot someone, would you run to the police? Undoubtedly, most high school aged students, especially living in that same community, would be fearful that the shooter would find out they’d snitched and come after them.
I can understand that even as a parent in the community, one would be afraid of putting their family at risk if they were to talk to police.
On the other hand, nobody wants a dangerous person, of any age, wandering around in their community with a gun. Especially if that person has already shot someone and has yet to be caught.
But the fear of revenge can be greater.
Community members are hoping that in this particular situation, where one boy was the victim — and a good boy. Not a gang member, or troubled kid, but a good, decent, gifted kid — someone will speak out. Two Grade 12 students from Jordan’s school, C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, commented that if they knew they could help, they would. That it was their “responsibility” to speak up.
Good for them. And I believe that as a society, it’s our responsibility to speak up. If not, if we keep mum on what we know, who are we saving? Who are we helping? We need to stop the violence that’s already escalating in our midst.
Do we, as Canadians, wish to follow in the American model of commonplace school danger? Where many educational institutions are fitted with surveillance cameras, police presence, metal detectors, and other such jail-like measures?
I should think not. As a mother, that’s certainly not the way I want my child attending school. When I was a kid, we didn’t know lockdowns, metal detectors, and especially not guns.
There are no easy answers when it comes to violence. Donna Quan, the safe schools superintendent for the Toronto District School Board believes that “... our mandate is prevention, not policing, through building trust and having extra eyes and ears throughout the halls.”
And Rick Johnson, head of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association believes that more emphasis should be placed on conflict resolution, after-school programs, and efforts to “reduce kids’ exposure to media glorification of violence.”
Like I said, there are no easy answers, but I think we can all agree that there is nothing more horrific than a parent having to bury a child.