High school violence shows lack of respect for authority

Written By Emily Bennett

A 16-year-old Wilkinsburg student doused two high school security guards with gasoline last Monday and ineffectively tried to light them on fire using a grill lighter.

The Associated Press ran an article on Imani Knight-Brantley, the girl who carried a 2-liter soda bottle full of gasoline along with a lighter in her hooded sweatshirt before assaulting the two guards, Brandon Murray and Leah Pyle.

She’s in jail now.

Murray told police that Knight-Brantley became angry when he escorted her from school after she was caught using her cellphone in class, which is a school violation. The high school, which is one of the poorest in the Pittsburgh suburban area, has a food program that takes place after hours, where Knight-Brantley returned to eat, and took part in a fight.

She was escorted once again from school property and was suspended. She then threw an open milk carton at a security guard’s head and later emptied the bottle of gasoline on the guards and tried to ignite the liquid.

She admits to trying to light Murray specifically on fire. When asked by police whether she “intended on igniting” Murray, she replied with a “yes.” Pyle, the other security guard that was present, knocked the lighter out of the girl’s hand.

The student blames the security guards, of course. She said she was “provoked” by that first encounter involving the cell phone. She also told police that she threw the open milk at Murray only after he slapped a food tray that was in her hands, and also claimed that he referred to her in crude ways, put her in a headlock and tried to bite her.

Because in high school, the first thing that comes to your mind whenever your phone gets taken is to light whoever is in authority on fire with a grill lighter.

Although both sides should be thoroughly examined for truth, even if Knight-Brantley’s claims are sincere, she probably should not have tried to light someone on fire. At the same time, a security guard should not have threatened to bite or harm a student they are paid to protect.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported in their yearly “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” that during the 2010-11 school year – the most recent year for which data was available – that there were 31 violent deaths, such as homicides and suicides involving students and staff members in school campus settings. That’s a decline from an almost 20-year high of 63 during the 2006-07 school year.

However, nonfatal incidents at school, like this one, seem to be on the rise. During 2012, students aged 12-18 experience a colossal 1.3 million victimizations that were nonfatal.

There’s something to be said about the pubic high school education system when something like this happens.

However, there’s something much greater to be said about the 16-year-old kid who did this. People can try to turn it around on the other side and blame those in authority, but when it comes down to it, it’s the lesser of two evils that must be taken into account.

In a society obsessed with the concept of blaming those in authority for all of the world’s problems, the entire purpose of a security guard’s job has been debased. Although there has been a ridiculous amount of incidents involving police brutality that have created justifiable resentment against those supposedly “paid to protect” in this country, for once, I think the security guards win this time.