[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 13, 1998]
[Pages 953-954]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
June 13, 1998

    Good morning. Later today I will meet with families in Springfield, 
Oregon, families whose lives just a few weeks ago were irreparably 
changed by a 15-year-old boy with 
semiautomatic weapons.
    We will speak, no doubt, of pain and loss and of the tragic, 
senseless nature of such acts. I'm sure we'll reflect, as Americans 
often have in recent months, on similar shocking incidents in Jonesboro, 
Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; Pearl, Mississippi; Edinboro, Pennsylvania. 
This litany of loss is familiar to every American and has tragically 
grown longer. Now we must think as a nation long and hard about what we 
can do to stop this violence and save more of our children.
    Around our kitchen tables, on our public airwaves, in our private 
thoughts, we all are asking ourselves, what are the root causes of such 
youth violence? This is an important and healthy discussion, but it must 
lead us to take action and take the responsibility that belongs to us 
    We're long past the question of whether culture makes an impact. Of 
course, it does. School shootings don't occur in a vacuum; they are, in 
part, symptoms of a culture that too

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often glorifies violence. It is no wonder, as scores of studies show, 
that our children are increasingly numb to violence. They see and hear 
it everywhere, from TV screens to movie screens to computer screens, and 
in popular music.
    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.
    Those who create and profit from the culture of violence must step 
up to their responsibility. So too, must the rest of us remember our 
responsibility to monitor the content of what is seen by young eyes and 
heard by young ears and to constantly counsel young people that, though 
too much violence exists in our society, it is wrong and ultimately 
self-destructive to those who do it.
    We have another important responsibility, to remember that 
unsupervised children and guns are a deadly combination. Parents cannot 
permit easy access to weapons that kill. We must get serious about gun 
safety. We must, every one of us, get serious about prevention.
    That's why, for 5 years now, our administration has worked so hard 
to protect our children. School security is tighter. Prevention is 
better. Penalties are tougher. We've promoted discipline with curfews, 
school uniforms, and antitruancy policies. We have worked with gun 
manufacturers to promote child safety locks on guns, and we will 
continue to show zero tolerance toward guns in schools. During the 1996-
97 school year, our policy led to the expulsion of nearly 6,100 law-
breaking students and the prevention of countless acts of violence.
    This year Congress has an opportunity to further protect America's 
children by passing the juvenile crime bill I proposed. It will ban 
violent juveniles from buying guns for life and take other important 
steps. Congress can also give communities much needed support. I've 
proposed that in our balanced budget, $95 million be allocated to the 
prevention of juvenile crime, including the promotion of after-school 
programs which provide positive alternatives and ways in which young 
people can fulfill themselves and learn more and be with other good 
people doing good things in the very hours when so much juvenile crime 
    I urge Congress to step up to its responsibilities, to listen to law 
enforcement professionals and reject special interest groups who are 
trying to defeat this bill, to invest in prevention so that we can stop 
more violent outbursts before they start.
    In Springfield, and in far too many recent cases, troubled children 
announced their intentions before turning guns on their classmates. 
We've learned that terrible threats and rage in the face of rejection 
can be more than idle talk. To help adults understand the signs and 
respond to them before it's too late, today I'm directing the Secretary 
of Education and the Attorney General to work with school officials and 
law enforcement to develop an early warning guide. It will be available 
to every school in America when classes start this fall and 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.
    All across America, communities are taking responsibility for making 
our schools and streets safer for our children. Over all, juvenile crime 
is going down. But we can and must do better at preventing these 
terrible tragedies. As individuals and as a nation, we must do more to 
teach our children right from wrong and to teach them how to resolve 
conflicts peacefully. In this way, we'll build a better, safer future 
for our children, freer of fear, and full of promise.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 11:30 a.m. on June 12 at the Benson 
Hotel in Portland, OR, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on June 13. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
June 12 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast. In his 
remarks, the President referred to Kipland P. Kinkel, who was charged 
with the May 21 shooting rampage at Thurston High School in Springfield, 
OR, which killed 2 students and wounded 22.