Yes, it’s happened again and this time right down the highway. And, supposedly the shooter is not who most of us would think of as a typical shooter. A 14?year- old football player with a smile on his face is not who anyone would think of as capable of shooting himself or others.
As a parent, what do we say to our own children about a senseless act of violence committed by a 14-year old in a school? First, they are safe. Our human reaction of fight or flight and fear of our own safety causes us to first evaluate for harm. Our kids have been instructed in their schools what to do in an emergency. We need to reassure them that the adults surrounding them are prepared to protect them. We also need to ensure they know what to do if they feel any kind of discomfort when they are at school.
The next teachable aspect of these kinds of events is to impress upon a child the value of honest expression of our emotions. We know that repressed anger, sadness, frustration and mismanaged emotions can, under the right conditions, cause an explosive reaction that erupts in violence. Although, we don’t know the actual reasons for this shooting in Washington, we understand that in some way a 14 year-old boy was pushed to violence. He snapped. Our kids and we. need to be aware that our emotions combined with destructive thoughts are powerful.
Our children can benefit greatly from understanding that whenever their instincts sense that a friend, colleague or anyone who seems agitated easily when they experience disappointment, or anyone who makes comments about wanting to get even when they are upset, or someone who tends to go silent or fume- that these are all mismanagement of our emotions.Our kids need to understand that hiding feelings can cause major pain. Learning to express emotions honestly, with compassion and encouragement when their friends are upset can really make a difference. Anger begets anger and fear begets fear- silence is not golden.
Finally, we all need to remember that despite the adult nature of this act, it was committed by a child who died. Parents, families and neighbors are confused and distraught and mourning the death of him and his victim. This is very sad and disheartening and the best way we can respond is to learn from a tragedy to live differently and better. To honor these children and their lost lives is to give our children more love, more reassurance and to teach them how to live differently.
We are all connected in the love and support for this community and our own loved ones.