School Shooting Solution: Help Those Who Are Hurting

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After every school tragedy, I am always asked the same question: What can we do to stop this from happening? The answer is simple: Help those who are hurting.

What is both difficult to accept, but very important to understand is that almost every school shooting incident is identical to the one which happened before. There are very few differences. Despite how nuances are portrayed in the news, each one of these acts has the same ingredients as the others:

You have a child who feels ignored; who feels alienated from their parents; rejected by their classmates; who doesn’t feel included in anything; who has acted out in the classroom; who has expressed some kind of harmful intent to themselves or others; who has expressed thoughts of suicide. Also common is a very recent emotional trigger like divorce or a death in the family. Finally, you have a child who with every online expression and with every interpersonal communication all but cries out in pain.

There are always warning signs. After every incident of violence, you have those who come forward saying how aware they were that something wasn’t right — who knew something was wrong. And all too often, those warning signs were ignored. Which is ironic, because being ignored is the exact opposite of what the student is hoping to achieve. 

Most children don’t have the emotional maturity to ask for help. So they act out, begging for you to notice them, but society loves to shirk responsibility. It’s easier to scold than to care, so the response to their behavior is often punitive, and the student is ignored even more. Instead of a one-on-one conversation they are given detention — put in a room after school where they are forced to endure even more isolation: “Sit here. Stay quiet. You’re not worth any more of my time.”  

School shootings will continue so long as we do nothing to address the emotional turmoil some students endure and the harmful ideation they fantasize as remedy to their grievance. We need to help those who are hurting. This isn’t about the stigma of reporting. This is about a willingness to help those children in need. No student is ever harmed by someone providing them the resources they need to improve…to heal.  

Let's all be more aware, and mindful, and willing to help those begging us to listen. Let's hear them BEFORE their gunshots scream, "Can you hear me now?” 

Our children deserve better. Their future deserves more.