On my radio show, we talk a lot about problems in our schools and how to fix them. We discuss the issue with an understanding that as we discuss these issues, our conclusions could potentially affect real people.
The perspective becomes deadly clear when we read horrific stories of school shootings.
We tend to take our children for granted. When we see a depressed teenager we tend to believe that it’s a phase, that the child will snap out of it. We justify our inaction in dealing with teen issues with arguments such as the classic, they’re kids, what do they have to be depressed about?
Kids have a tough life. Between the awkwardness of puberty, the demands of school, peer pressure, personal and sexual identity, bullying, clicks and fitting in, I don’t think any adult would want to be a kid again. At the same time, many young people feel that they don’t have anyone to talk to, and even if they find someone, they feel that the person either won’t understand their problem or won’t be able to help.
Then we have society which has gone completely paranoid, so any adult who shows any interest in any child must be a pervert no matter how innocent or good their Intentions are.
So looking at the situation, you have kids craving adult attention, adults afraid to talk to kids for fear of being called a pervert and parents too busy to notice. So these kids turn to the Internet and share their problems online through Facebook, Twitter and various another social networking sites.
If you’re a parent, when was the last time you hugged your child and told them you love them? When’s then last time you sat down and had a heart to heart with them? When’s the last time you actually listened to them, understood what they were talking about and helped them solve a problem?
Last Monday, two sets of parents in Ohio, exactly like parents everywhere, sent their kids to school without a thought. Their kids did not come home. Another student ended their lives in a shooting spree.
The alleged shooter, T.J Lane, a former friend of the victims, has been described by the media as a loner, bullied, depressed, troubled. The anomaly, however, is that all the students who have been interviewed by television news have unanimously said that the alleged shooter was a quiet, shy kid who had a few friends. He came from a troubled home and went to a school for at risk children. Apparently one of the students he killed had recently started dating his ex girlfriend.
The media has reported extensively about a poem he posted on his Facebook, a dark poem that ended with a call for death. They are reporting that he allegedly warned his friends about the upcoming massacre. If all that is true, then his friends and family failed to see his calls for help. The result of the fail, two dead teenagers, one who’se life is essentially over (T.J. Lane’s), and hundreds of children, who were there, who will have to live with the psychological effects of a school shooting.
I believe that the lesson of school shootings are that we have to be more vigilant. We have to pay much more attention to what our kids are saying and posting online. Perhaps if parents paid more attention to our kids, perhaps we can avoid another disaster such as the one in Ohio.