Recently the New York Times posted a well written article by a girl who tried to befriend the Florida shooter years before the shooting happened. It caused me to reflect on how we so often are quick to try to fix the problems by putting band-aids on them and not looking to the root of the problem. Let's ban assault rifles they say. Let's crack down on bullying! Let's have tighter gun laws!
Now, yes, I do believe that we need to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals and have background checks on all gun owners, and yes I do believe that we need to stop bullying, but the root problem is not about the gun laws or the guns themselves. It is not even about bullying.
Many kids get bullied, many contemplate suicide because of the bullying, many commit suicide as a result, but in school shootings there are deeper issues going on than JUST being bullied. The kids are not just seeking out revenge on those who have picked on them, they are taking revenge on innocent and guilty alike. There are many factors that go far beyond the things that happen at school. I am not implying their problems have arisen at home, but I am sure there are factors there as well that played apart.
For someone to go to such extremes in reaction to whatever triggered them to take this course of action was not just a single issue the child had. That child was hurting, and hurting for a very long time.
So how do we stop school shootings?
Well, I think it begins long before they are in high school or middle school. It begins when they are little. Yes, a good friend may change the course of that child's life, but often a child who is deeply hurt will reject friendship even if someone reaches out to them. We need to reach that child before their heart has hardened and evil has set root.
Our society is very individualistic as far as families go. Each family lives in a house with closed doors and blinds on the windows. We like our privacy and we like our alone time. We do not want to be inconvenienced with other's problems, for we each have enough problems of our own.
We want to rest when we get home from work and veg out watching TV. Someone has to feed the kids, someone has to do the laundry, someone has to drive the kids to their extra curriculars. We just don't have time for others.
Where the problem does lie is that we are so busy with our own lives and our own families that the families that are struggling often get overlooked. The problem kid at school may get extra services during school hours, but when they are home things get worse and worse. Maybe their mom is an addict. Maybe their dad is in prison. Maybe they were physically or sexually abused. Maybe they get very little adult attention due to long work days a parent works in order to pay the bills. Maybe they have a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed because people dismiss them as being that "bad" kid.
The kids struggle at home and at school and have no where else to turn. They feel helpless and hopeless and lost faith in any kind of good in the world. They have been hurt and violated. They feel alone and their hearts harden. They lose sight of their own value and eventually the value of other people.
So again, I ask what can we do?
The bottom line is every single one of us needs other people. More importantly, we need people to help guide us and encourage us. Of course we need God and to follow His word, but He designed us to need each other. Us who know God, can turn to God, but who are those who do not know Him supposed to turn to.
We need to seek out the families that need an extra hand. We need to seek out the kid who needs a positive adult role model in their life. We need to stop labeling a kid as bad, but as needing love. We need to stop blaming parents, but encouraging them to live healthier lives. We need to not give up on those who make loving them hard. We need to not let kids or parents or families slip through the cracks, because we are so busy looking at our own lives and making sure our kids lives are great that we sacrifice the community. We need to be a community who loves and supports one another. But above all else, we need to see this need as urgent. We need to find the families that need the extra love and help before hearts are hardened.
No this will not stop all school shootings or violence or suicide, but it certainly would help. I believe the true root cause is that these children have no faith, no love, and no hope. Years and years of hurt have caused these three things to have no value to them. We cannot give someone faith, we cannot give someone hope. These are two things they can only find by seeking God. But what we CAN do is give them love. The younger they are when they see that love, the easier it is for them to accept it.
After six years of infertility, she was blessed with the adoption of her oldest daughter who now is a teenager. Six years later, she finally became a mother a second time, this time with a baby through a donated egg and ivf. Throughout that time, she fostered nine babies and toddlers, met wonderful women who helped her grow, and learned to rely on Jesus. She started this blog with the hope that she could share her joy, experience, and willingness to grow with others, whether they battle infertility, toddlers, or teens.