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“The C Word in the Hallways” by Anna Quindlen Essay

In the article “The C Word in the Hallways”, Anna Quindlen claims that teenage killings can be prevented by drawing attention to mental health. Quindlen supports her claim by giving examples of individual cases in great detail, and stating information relating to the issue of mental health. The author’s purpose is to persuade readers so that they should treat mental illness instead of dismissing it as a “character flaw”. She speaks in a serious but derisive tone to address parents, schools and healthcare providers.

Quindlen begins her article by affirming that mental health is not considered important. She exaggerates by calling it “a plague on all our houses…laying waste” . It is not a contagious disease or infection but rather an issue being ignored and allowed to germinate. She makes this comparison in order to emphasize that mental illness is not take serious at all. It is not seen as important as a physical ailment. If people cared for the solution to mental illness, ‘this vaccine’ “would save lives”. If it were a cut, one wouldn’t let it become infected but that is what they are doing with mental illness. This reveals the unbalanced view many may have regarding physical and mental illnesses.

In the article Anna Quindlen moves on to argue that these kids are victims of a failing mental health system. She incorporates different accounts where this proved true such as with Sam Manzie and Kip Kinkels. “Excuses, excuses.” This repetition to show the attitude that many have toward such cases. It also draws attention away from the severity of the crimes and adds a mocking tone toward those who’d focus on those details. No progress is made because no one wants to solve the problem. Both young people had previously been evaluated but it was to weak to prevent the events that occurred. She employs this sarcasm to reveal the kid to be the true victim. The victim of neglect and of apathy from the mental health system.

Quindlen further acknowledges that no one wants to use the C word. “Parents are afraid” and don’t want to take the responsibility or blame of causing
such an environment. An environment ” that tells teenagers their demons are a disgrace”. This alliteration draws attention to the parents role in taking care of the matter. They are to scared to admit what needs to be done but would rather let such behavior persist. Then the words “demon” and “disgrace” elevate the situation. Demon denotes an outside force having a bad influence and because of this they are a disgrace. It’s easier for parents not to address the issue rather than to face it. This way they can go on blaming it on “demons”. But it’s not just with parents. This is the attitude that schools and health and insurance providers also hold. If this continues, they will also continue to have to ‘identify the bodies’.

The problem starts in the home but as kids grow up it it not confined. It continues to school until finally reaching healthcare providers. By then it may be too late. all these parties have a share in contributing to the problem even if nono one wants to accept that. Quindlen was effective stating the problem and addressing the roles of each party. If everyone saw mental health condition as something serious then, only then, can a solution can they prevent horrific events.


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