President Urges Action To Prevent Youth Violence
PORTLAND, Oregon (AllPolitics, June 13) -- President Bill Clinton appealed Saturday for less violence in popular entertainment and for congressional support for gun safety and juvenile crime initiatives.
His call came the same day that he was consoling families of the victims of a recent school shooting.
Clinton is directing Education Secretary Richard Riley and Attorney General Janet Reno to work with school officials and law enforcement authorities on developing an "early warning guide" that might help prevent school violence.
In his weekly radio address, Clinton sought to determine "the root causes" of youth violence that have led to school deaths in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and nearby Springfield, Oregon.
"This is an important and healthy discussion, but it must lead us to take action and take the responsibility that belongs to all of us," the president said.
Later Saturday, Clinton planned to console families of the victims and the community following the May 21 shooting rampage at Thurston High School in Springfield. Two students were killed and more than 20 were wounded when, police say, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel opened fire in the school cafeteria. Clinton was in Oregon to raise money for Democrats and to give a college commencement speech.
Student aided after May 21 Springfield shooting
The president said popular culture, from television and movies to music and the computer screen, "too often glories violence" and makes youngsters numb to it.
"When mindless killing becomes a staple of family entertainment, when over and over children see cinematic conflicts resolved not with words, but with weapons, we shouldn't be surprised when children, from impulse or design, follow suit," he said.
The entertainment industry must act responsibly, Clinton said, while adults must better monitor what youngsters see and hear, and counsel them against violent behavior.
At the same time, parents must guard against easy access to guns for children and Congress should act on the administration's juvenile crime bill, which, among other things, would ban violent juveniles from buying guns for life, Clinton said.
He also urged congressional passage of a proposal in his balanced budget for $95 million to prevent juvenile crime and promote after-school programs for youngsters.
Meantime, the president hopes the early warning guides, available in every school in the country when classes resume in the fall, "will help adults reach out to troubled children quickly and effectively. School children, too, should be taught how to recognize danger signals when they're sent."
"In Springfield, and in far too many recent cases, troubled children announced their intentions before turning guns on their classmates," Clinton said. "We've learned that terrible threats and rage in the face of rejection can be more than idle talk."