Tragedies are becoming all too common in our schools. As I sit and watch and listen to the latest horrific tragedy taking place in Newtown, Connecticut, I feel mostly sadness. I must admit I also have had my share of “wonder.” I wonder why? I wonder what? I wonder when? I wonder how? I wonder where? I wonder how? I wonder who and how many?
The sense of loss across America is all encompassing. Not so clear is the path leading to the answer of the question, “what are we going to do about it?” There is a great deal of rhetoric taking place right now. We’ll see how much of it turns into positive action.
Most of the focus on this and all of the school shooting tragedies seems to be on trying to revamp the outdated second amendment. Considerable and important debate is ongoing about our gun laws. There are good arguments on both sides. I am not a gun owner but I understand both sides. Ultimately, part of the solution must be in better control of our gun laws.
However, gun law changes are only going to be part of the solution to this difficult societal issue. The real “whys” of school shootings can be found in people treating other people with compassion. It starts with parents listening to their children with an open mind and heart. It is necessary that parents be parents to their children. Parents must pay attention and take notice of their children’s emotions and understand patterns and changes for what they are.
The real “whys” of school shootings can be found in public schools training their teachers, counselors, social workers and administrators to understand signs of student depression, drug use, and mood swings. Public schools need to have more counselors, social workers and school nurses to help students who are having difficulty in their lives somewhere to turn.
We must begin by listening and watching the youth of today. They will communicate to us their needs. It is up to us to meet those needs. It is up to us to make them feel like they matter; show them they have value. Relationship building in schools for all children is the key to not only their academic success but more importantly, their social success.
Today’s youth are living in a vastly different world and society than ever before. There is much more uncertainty in the world on all levels. This uncertainty leads to lots of questions, and doubt in our youth. They may be the most talented generation yet but, if they feel as if there is no hope, there is no one who cares about them and their success, they will regress inside of themselves to a world of anger, depression and emotional turmoil. Eventually, they learn how to keep that all inside and then at some point it all comes out. How it comes out at that point in time will never result in a positive action.
If we want to understand the whys of school shootings we must first make a better effort on all fronts to better understand the youth of today and in that process we need to validate them and their emotions. Helping a few misguided students learn how to cope and feel valued certainly is better than teaching our entire country to cope with another school shooting tragedy.