So, today I pulled out my soapbox because I’m pissed off. The original intent of this post was to just show you that schools and teachers think about this day in and day out, and it’s about time the rest of the country did as well, so we can all do what needs to be done to stop this mass shooting epidemic that is killing Americans every day. But, as I started writing, I started feeling everything that bothers me about this mass shooting cycle we seem to have found ourselves in.
I’m part of a few online professional communities for educators, and since the events in Florida, there’s only one thing the teachers are talking about- how to keep your children safe. So, I’d like to now include snippets of that conversation, so maybe you can see that teachers across the country are trying to save your kids and will GLADLY die and leave their families behind in order to make sure you get to keep your child. That’s the most magical thing about teachers; they will lose their lives for kids they only get for a limited period of time. If only the rest of society was as dedicated to their well-being and success as teachers, maybe we wouldn’t be here.
I tried to keep them in order, but with soo many, I know I probably mixed them up.
Either way, the message is still the same- your child’s teachers are prepared to defend them and lose their lives in the process. Your child’s teachers have prepared them how to handle this situation as best as possible. Your child’s teachers will not run and duck for cover leaving your children at risk; they will hide them all and pretend the classroom is empty, so they are the only victim. They will push them into classrooms and lock the doors, so the gunman is satisfied with just killing the teacher and moves on leaving your baby unscathed. And, after every shooting, we teachers get back online to our communities and begin to have conversations again like the one above. We study aspects of the previous school shooting to create new plans to deal with new unforeseen possibilities. Day in and day out we are plagued with this possible situation, combing through every last thing that could go wrong. We say our prayers and silently thank our loved ones for our time together because we never know if the day will come that it will be our school and our kids, and it doesn’t matter if it is because we’ve already decided that a gunman will kill our (your) kids over our dead bodies.
But, after every school shooting, we follow the same “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle
EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
And it’s starting to get tiresome.
First, we are shocked and surprised (I literally don’t know why you are shocked or surprised- for me, this is normal American behavior, and that’s a problem). Then, we are quick to find a reason behind it all (because people need a reason)- ‘oh he was severely mentally disturbed’; ‘he must have snapped because of ‘x-y-z reason”.
Then, everyone has a solution!
More guns. Fewer guns. Arm the teachers. Employ veterans to carry arms on campus and defend students. Do something about mental health. Get rid of violent video games and movies.
Everyone always seems to find their voice after any mass shooting, but as quickly as it comes, it disappears just as fast.
This is because we only get ‘sort of’ angry at lawmakers for doing nothing to pass laws to protect Americans since the last massacre. And it’s only ‘sort of’ mad because we wave our signs and talk to reporters about how angry we are, but then no one marches on Washington making demands for anything, and we all go back to our own lives and await the next time and location that we get to do this little dance again. And we will do it again… that is an American guarantee.
And through all of it, people are quick to make suggestions like the ones above (among many others), and they always act like their suggestion is the one true answer that will save us all.
There is not 1 answer to save us all, and frankly, with the direction this country is headed, it’s going to take a complete overhaul of our thinking and beliefs before we ever find an answer that will minimize the number of deaths we have because of mass shootings. We cannot eliminate mass shootings- we’re too far gone for that- but, we can start working on something now to hopefully lessen the number of incidences and casualties in the future. Maybe by being fully committed and proactive, we could eliminate them, but I’m not entirely hopeful on that.
Anyways, the reason your little solutions don’t work is that they’re targeted at one reason or flaw or situation that caused the mass shooting in the first place. For example, someone with a mental illness bought a gun and committed a massacre at whereever- now they can’t buy guns (well, I guess not anymore… sigh…). Either way, that’s great and all, but that is one group of individuals, what about everyone else with undiagnosed mental illness? What about those that wish to harm churchgoers simply because of the color of their skin? What about angry employees who are borderline unstable and at any moment could snap?
What checks do you have for those people?
It’s not a gun problem.
It’s not a mental health problem.
It’s not a video game problem.
It’s an American social problem.
Until we decide to set aside all loyalties and have an honest to God conversation with one another about how to fix it, it will continue to happen… over and over again…
More or less guns are not going to solve the problem that people today have no compassion for others or human life, and it will not solve the problem that we do not have adequate services and specialists for troubled people or those with mental health issues. Having more people with guns on a campus does not stop people from coming to a school and killing them anyways. Arming more citizens does not stop them from holding and acting on racist beliefs. More police officers do not equal schools having adequate resources to deal with troubled youth.
And, this will continue to happen until we, as a society, change how we raise and the services we provide our youth… because from what I see of America’s youth today, the mass shooting epidemic is only going to get worse if we don’t do something to stop it.
All kids demand instant gratification, and when they don’t get it, they get mad. Now, it all comes down to what they do with that anger that is different because they were all raised different- my parents taught me how to cope with my anger and how to treat others with respect and humanity which is how I’m raising my own child. I learned how to fail and what the consequences were when I did.
Other parents, however, stand behind their children when they act wretched and claim that it had to be someone else because there is NO WAY their precious snowflake could ever do anything wrong. “You must be lying that he/she acted that way because my baby would NEVER do that.” “You’re certainly out to get him/her because you don’t like him/her.”
YOUR PRECIOUS SNOWFLAKE IS A COMPLETE REFLECTION OF HOW YOU RAISED HIM/HER.
If your child throws a fit to get something, and you cave and give it to him, guess what we teachers see at school- THE. SAME. BEHAVIOR. If your child feels entitled to things at home, they feel entitled to them everywhere, and when they don’t get it, they lash out, and you come to their defense thus exacerbating the problem. And, the teacher knows who these parents are within 2 weeks of school. We know because your kid acts a certain way, and it’s not good. You and your kid are the ones we warn the teachers about for next year.
We see your kid who constantly disrupts class because “this is boring”, and we see him/her when they cuss us out. We see them when they demand you take work weeks after it is due because ‘they can’t fail’ because they’re on the football team, and when we say no, here you come emailing and calling wondering why we won’t accept the work. We do see you, parents, when you call and email, and we see you when despite repeatedly telling you that the work is over 2 weeks late, you gave their child 2 days in class to do it, and they played on their phone the whole time despite being told to put it away, you still can’t seem to understand why we’re ‘being so unfair’. And we see you when you go to the administrators who understand that we followed policy, but also are trying to keep you happy (because we don’t want you going to the Superintendent at all). So, they compromise that an alternative assignment will be given, and we, the teachers who were trying to teach your child about responsibility and consequences all along, stare at everyone in disbelief that we are saddled with extra work, all because your kid couldn’t be bothered to do the original assignment in the first place and you, the parent, couldn’t be bothered to help teach him/her a valuable lesson.
IF YOU ARE THIS PARENT.
STOP. IT. RIGHT. NOW.
YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
I constantly stare in disbelief as I listen to parents claim their child never did this or said that.
If your baby is a star athlete or your a well-connected member of the community, you can best believe that kid will walk through school untouchable to discipline. Look, if you’re one of those parents who entitles their children, I’ve just given you the keys to success in American public schools.
I have seen so many things that I often wonder if I am in The Twilight Zone.
And it won’t change until society changes. Until we deem human life more important than money received, connections, or sports, and until we as parents and educators step up and teach our children the true meaning of respect, responsibility, and hard work, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.
Children need to fail, and we need to let them.
Failure is the best teacher, and we are robbing children of that opportunity.
Children need to be taught the value of human life, decency, respect, and responsibility.
They NEED it. SO STOP ROBBING THEM OF THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN IT.
It sucks to say, but I know we’ll have another mass shooting in less than a month (if that- probably 2ish weeks) because no one wants to do anything about it except blame everything but themselves.
Blame the guns. Blame the mental health. Blame the parents.
Blame whoever and whatever you want.
But, whatever you do don’t blame yourself!
WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.
This is an American problem, and we are all Americans.
It is our job to fix it. Together.
So, while I know I don’t have all the answers, I do know there is one OVERWHELMING PROBLEM with America’s youth today that we can start to do something proactive about.
We, as adults charged with making sure we have future FUTURE generations, need to:
Have conversations with our kids about what it means to value human life- let them know that real-life is not Call of Duty, and if you pull that trigger the consequences are permanent. Teach them to understand that you CANNOT have everything you want in life and how to COPE with that.
Be proactive about it.
Prepare your children to be functioning, successful, accepting members of society. Prepare them to cope when life doesn’t go their way or they fail. Prepare them for how to deal with the unexpected, so that when it happens they don’t go off the deep end (teach them a contingency plan and for Christ’s sake have one! especially if your child has a mental illness).
Teach them that taking human life is not the answer. Teach them to be responsible, independently-functioning members of society. Teach them that just because someone is from a different country or culture than you, does not make it wrong. Teach them the meaning of coexisting with other humans and being respectful that views and beliefs are different, and THAT’S OKAY. Teach them that if they forget their lunch or their homework, then they need to learn how to make that work, and DO NOT BRING IT TO THEM (the cafeteria will give your child food- make them buy their lunch and then pay you back for it). Make them get a job and pay for things themselves. Teach them that guns are not toys and taking it to school to show your friends is a BIG NO.
This is your duty as a parent, friend, educator, administrator, citizen, American.
It is not your job to be their friend or cater to their every need. It is your job to make sure they understand that the rules apply to them. It is your job to help them understand what it means to get consequences and fail and how to come back from that. It is your job to make sure as absolute best you can that your sweet innocent babe does not grow up and decide to execute people. It is your job to give them the tools necessary for them to understand NOT TO KILL PEOPLE WHEN THINGS AREN’T GOING YOUR WAY. It is your job to provide them a safe and loving environment, so they don’t have the urge to lash out and destroy lives.
It. Is. Our. Job.
And, if your not up to that job; then sorry, but I think you should enlist someone else to do it for you. Someone who is willing to put every last bit of energy into raising a human being that is not going to cause another statistic. If you are not willing to have the tough conversations with your kids and raise them to understand that things in life aren’t just given to you, then you probably shouldn’t be having any. Being a parent is not supposed to be easy; the kids are not the ones who are supposed to be in charge- you are, so act like it.
And, this isn’t the complete whole answer because there are people out there who are sociopaths and enable their children to do awful things, but this is a step in the right direction. Instead of constantly trying to find ways to blame objects and brain functions, why not provide schools and parents with more resources and funding to deal with troubled youth and people with mental illness. Why not shell out the extra dollars to create programs for these kids to find focus and drive in a positive way? It seems like we’re willing to spend money on a lot of things, but not our kids and they’re who we’re leaving this world to.
My heart goes out to all those in Florida.
What happened in Parkland should have never happened.
My heart breaks for everyone involved.
And then my heart gets pissed off.
Pissed off at the senseless loss of innocent life. Pissed off that children who had so much to live for and accomplish will never get to see their dreams fulfilled. Pissed off that teachers who sacrificed their lives, so that a child wouldn’t have to die, had to do it in the first place. Pissed off that we’ll hear about this for about a week, and then the people of Parkland will be forgotten until another comparable school shooting occurs.
And you should be pissed off too.
Because then you might be finally willing to fight for something to change.
March on Washington.
Let those who make laws understand that they cannot continue to think with their pocketbooks if they want to continue to represent the American people.
Let them know that we need support in arming America’s youth with the tools needed to cope and manage in life rather than arming or disarming more Americans with weapons.
What happened there was yet another terrible tragedy, like Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and everywhere else (here’s a list), and it will continue to happen until we, as a society, make the decision to change, and have honest and open conversations about this epidemic.
We need people to stop suggesting ‘quick fixes’ to this (reactionary laws, misrepresentations of mental illness, banning violent media).