Carrying only a starter gun and a knife the 23-year-old killed a 58-year-old faculty member. Students fled the classroom and an alarm went off. Two other faculty members were facing the same fate when police moved onto the 1000-student campus in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The well-armed police were able to interrupt the attacks and the violent student was apprehended, already claiming guilt for his act.
There have been similar events in almost every German state over the past decade. The German President Horst Kohler has immediately today called for a national conference in April to address the growing violence at schools in the country. In the state of Baden-Wurttemberg a younger high school student had killed 14 people just last March 2009.
Until now, most of the school killings and shooting violence of the past few years in Germany has resulted from bullying and marginalization of certain pupils over time. It is not clear that this was the case in Ludwigshafen murder of today.
The young man, who undertook the killing of a professor for his bad grades from years ago will certainly be tried for murder and attempted murder, but the violence in German schools has not been of national concern only. Across the border in France, there have been a series of violent attacks and daytime robberies in schools. Teachers in Paris have already been on strike demanding more security and staff in the schools. [Teachers all over France were on strike last month due to the vast government cuts in education.] (click)
News from France this week is: "The French government came under pressure on yesterday to curb violence in schools after a 17-year-old boy was slashed with a knife and beaten with baseball bats by a gang during a sports class.The attack on Monday at a gymnasium in Thiais, a poor suburb of Paris, was the third such bloody incident in a French school reported this year."
"In January an 18-year-old pupil was stabbed to death by a classmate at another school nearby and earlier this month, a 14-year-old was attacked with a knife in nearby Vitry-sur-Seine. Teachers at the school in Thiais, south-east of the capital, refused to work yesterday and echoed the demand of staff at other schools for extra security guards."
The AFP reported teachers claiming, "We are afraid. The pupils are
afraid . . . We can't go on as if nothing has happened." (click)
A second national strike is scheduled by teachers on March 12. It is expected that in the public services in Paris this year 16,000 jobs will be stricken.
Meanwhile, remaining French teachers are worried. "'This attack is not a chance incident,'" teachers from the Thais school claimed. "We demand the human resources necessary to re-establish the climate of calm that is indispensible for study."
Students too do not do well generally in violent times. So, many students are siding with teachers.
Education Minister, Luc Chatel, in France is also calling for a national conference on violence to target a decrease in violence in the country's schools. However, he seems to be missing the point that draconian budget cuts across France in 2010 are going to make the needs of students and staff much larger in coming months.
CONFERENCES ARE NOT ENOUGH
At first glance the problems in German and French schools seem to be coming from different directions. The shootings and attacks in Germany have taken place often in well-to-do towns and in schools that were financially and socially well-off --while a lot of the violence in France has been seen in urban and suburban ghettos.
However, the common variant in both countries seems to be a lack of people present in schools who are able to listen to and help marginalized human beings. This is to-a-great-part a manpower and financial or training issue--not necessarily a societal issue.
Nonetheless, on the other hand, there are also questionable issues related to how school systems in both France and Germany are functioning and organized. Are students feeling shut-in to a life or career path at too early an age? This has increased the area or perceptions of marginalizing certain peoples, schools and neighborhoods from one another. In short, there are school-rankings in the minds of inhabitants everywhere and many of the places where violent attacks have taken place in German have occurred [as note above] where a student with a great lack of self-confidence, suddenly hits out at his perceived abusers. That is, when students are feeling alienated and they do not know where to turn [when they feel threatened by the society that exists around them], they eventually explode.