Walking through another day, I find myself breaking down and crying. How can one young man enter an elementary school and kill so many innocent children and adults? I am speechless and brought to wonder what happened? I believe that we are all confused, disgusted, saddened and concerned. This could have been our school, this could have happen to anyone.
I am not here to preach about bullying but to share my perspective of this violent attack and discuss what we can do to prevent this from happening again. So many unanswered questions and assumptions are being front loaded to the media. We all know that the media will often make their own story with facts and twist and turn the truth to fit in to a good news report. I have lived through a violent crime and I have seen how the media takes information to form a story that shows only part of the truth. So, I want to step back from the media and look at the facts as well as what we can do to help our community.
The fact are that a 20 something man went into a school and killed innocent people. He took a gun and shot his own mother point blank. Teachers became heroes and put their own life on the line to help save their students; they stood in the line of fire to save the children. And sadly, we don't know what drove this man to turn into a monster.
I saw on the news today that there was talk of the man suffering of autism...That stopped me in my tracks. Yes, he might have been autistic but that does not mean that all autistic kids, teens, and adults would enter a school and shoot innocent people. There is no correlation between autism and violent crime. It frustrates me that the media put that statement out there without further explanation. People naturally will jump to conclusion, make assumptions, or even worse start passing judgement over autistic kids.
The man was mentally ill. This most probably was premeditated. He would have had to plan this execution and think about how to do this. His violent fantasy was his new reality. There should have been signs and behavioral issues that would have been displayed before the shooting. He did not just wake up one morning and snap. There will be a series of patterns that the FBI will find. These patterns will show how this violent act was a progression and the man was disturbed.
Some assumptions are: he could have been living in a distorted reality, he could have heard voices, or he could have been exposed to violence. We don't know and no matter how the next few weeks unfold we will never really understand or process what actually was going through this man's head. He also turned the gun onto himself. That could mean a lot of different things. It could have been that his fantasy did not play out to his current reality, he felt remorse, or it was part his master plan. All these scenarios are assumptions and most probably will never be fully answered.
As we grieve this tragedy, we need to take some time and think about what we can do to help prevent this from happening again. Here are my thoughts:
- Take the time to talk to your kids about this tragedy and violent act. Show them how it impacted you and the rest of our country. Talk to them about empathy and how this saddened you to see the loss of innocent people.
- Talk to your kids about violence and guns. Talk about the difference from video games and reality.
- Share the heroes stories about how teacher stood up to the perpetrator to protect their students. Talk about how courageous these teachers were in the face of danger.
- Ask your kids about how they feel and what their thoughts were when hearing the news.
- Talk to them about how retaliation and revenge is not the answer.
Take this opportunity to connect to your kids. Teach them about how violence impacts us. Talk about the difference of video games, TV, and movies. They are used to seeing violence. It can be all around us but when shootings occur in our "real" world, there is no turning back. We can't push the reset button or rewind. All we can do is stand still and watch it unfold. We stand frozen in time and wonder how this could have happen.
There are signs and triggers to look for in kids. As an educator, I often look out for signs and triggers. But as a parent, I would never want to think that my child could do such a thing. So how can we come to some sort of reality check without overcompensating, overanalyzing, being in denial, or passing quick judgement . I would talk to your kids, find out about their friends, where they like to hang out, what they are watching on TV, and what sites they visit on the internet. Learn more about mental illnesses and start educating yourself about resources that can help. Learn about what you can do to make a difference. As adults, our power is reaching out and being role models.
These strategies won't solve the current tragedy but by opening up and talking to our children we might prevent another shooting. Kids see violence all the time but they might not know the difference between fantasy and reality. The reality of what happen is not another Die Hard movie but a tragedy of innocent victims taken from our world. We pray and grieve for the Newton community and Sandy Hook Elementary school.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the families grieving from the lost of their love ones.
With my heavy heart, I leave you until next time...