Predators make their living on the weak and the marginalized. It holds true on the African savanna, on urban streets, and in school hallways.
Nature seeks constantly to reach an ecological balance between predator and prey. When the number of prey (i.e., the weak or marginalized) increase, nature responds by increasing the number of predators. When the number of prey (i.e., the weak or marginalized) decrease, then the number of predators decreases, too.
We see this dynamic at work in schools. Students who are disenfranchised and/or have no emotional/psychological "connection" to the school are the first ones to be gobbled up by predatory groups/actors (gangs are a case in point). The healthiest schools manage to create the conditions that cause most of their students to feel a "connection" to the school. They embrace and engage students in meaningful and healthy groups/activities. In effect, these schools reduce the number of "prey" and, thus, the predatory elements diminish as well.
Viable and healthy organizations of all stripes find ways to limit the number of their membership who become likely predator bait. Inclusive and empowering cultures are the catalysts that mitigate marginalization.
When individuals in societies (of which schools are a microcosm) are taught and empowered to be independent, viable, and self-sustaining (on all levels – social, emotional, economic, physical, spiritual), fewer fall prey to the predators.
When individuals in societies become dependent on others (or institutions, or government) for their economic, social, emotional, and physical well-being, they have, in effect, morphed into "prey." The predators WILL get them.
I worry about the social fabric of our nation when large numbers of our society are no longer independent, viable, and self-sustaining, but rather, rely heavily (or completely) on the benevolence(?) of others (or government). It seems to me these folks have drifted (or been driven) into the "prey" category.
Schools MUST teach our children the ways of thinking and the skills to affect citizens who value freedom, self-determination, and self-sustenance. If we don't, the predators will get them.