Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|I am encouraged by the actions of the surviving students from last weeks school shooting. They are saying what needs to be said with a lot of energy. Unfortunately, they are up against an unresponsive legislature at both the state and federal level. They are also up against Russian misinformation campaigns. And most of them are not of age to vote, yet. Nevertheless, I am so pleased to hear them raise their voices.
I got to thinking about the Arkansas school shooting in 1998, so I looked it up. The boys, 11 and 13 at the time, are out in the world now and have been for a decade. They were not charged as adults. They are having some problems, but nothing that is hurting the people around them. I also learned that Arkansas has had no more incidents. I wanted to think they have made wonderful changes that brought that about, and perhaps they have. I found no documentation on the internet to support that idea.
I do know that in some Arkansas schools, there are school-based mental health services. This seems sensible to me. One of the things that may have contributed the most recent incident of school shooting is the school gave up on the child. Nevertheless, he received very significant support from kind families in his community. It looked as if he hadn't given up on himself, but he had. I suspect no one recognized how vulnerable he truly was to his own emotions and irrational thoughts until the last month of his freedom. When teens are talking about having killed animals, they should be hospitalized until someone has figured out what he needs. This didn't happen. I don't know why.
What if instead of giving up on him, the school had increased their investment in him? We will never know. However, we can support our schools in not giving up on troubled youth in the future. We can ask our schools if they have school-based mental health services. If they do, we can support those services. If they don't, we can attend school board meetings and ask for services for students and their families. We don't have to have children in school to participate. We only need to speak clearly and politely and demonstrate concern for the well being of all members of the community.
It is one thing for an adult to dedicate his life to teaching, but no one should be shot for doing so. It feels to me like we are going backward at breakneck speed into the lawlessness and related trauma of the past. We can stop this with our voices and our votes.