Recent Florida school shooting teaches us many things. It is time to act to protect our kids. Pressing Auto-pilot, expecting schools , principals, teachers, to protect, reprimand and train our children, no longer works.
School shootings are caused by a huge fracture in the community; lack of communication; kids' reliance on Social Media for "relationships"; teenage and adult isolation; disrespect for police; not communicating as a team. They're caused by students or adults who isolate or stop communicating with each other. In all school shooting cases, people knew the shooter was "off" or unstable. From Columbine, CO, Newtown CT, even Tucson shooting to this week's case in Parkland, FL. People knew. They kept quiet. That must change.
Over 100 people knew shooter was unstable. Several fellow students heard him say "I want to be a professional school shooter." It wasn't just a comment on YouTube he made. No one communicated. There was no team of adults who knew or did anything about it. Other school shootings have highlighted the importance of communicating with school teachers, principals. Because people knew the shooters were unstable and stayed silent. Teachers knew, principals knew, school administrators knew. Students knew. No one talked to each other. School did not call police or investigators to question potential problem students. Several surviving family members of school shooting fatalities have filed lawsuits against schools for their negligence. Let's prevent future shootings instead.
Kids today are faced with more challenges than decades past. Their parents face similar challenges. Social Media is one of them - for kids and adults. It heightens our human quest for fame & attention. Kids today grew up on Social Media. It gives them illusion that SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube is real. Social Media is not real. It cannot replace face-to-face human interaction. Time to remind our kids that face-to-face interaction is always best.
Social Media can enhance our existing relationships, but it can also be a crutch that leads to isolation. A crutch for those teenagers, preteens and even adults who don't fit in. But it's a quick-fix, ineffective crutch.
The Shooter, former student of high school, isolated from his fellow students. Social Media helped him isolate. He created his own world on Social Media. Conversing with fellow students but also strangers. Strangers seemed "friends" on Social Media. Strangers are not friends. We must remind our kids this.
Yes, certain groups have made this shooting, like others, a political one. Guns aren't the problem. The people holding the gun are the problem. It's a people problem. It's a society problem. It's not a federal problem. It's a local problem. Washington DC cannot get anything done. Local communities can - and should.
The emotional, spiritual, mental disconnect seen on faces of surviving kids was disturbing. Relying on Social Media to interact vs. face-to-face, physical human interaction leads to "zombie" state. We cannot allow our kids to isolate like that. We cannot allow our kids to disconnect from their heart, soul, mind. It's time we, as adults and parents, become the best role models for our children.
Shooting also reminds us to stay vigilant, connected with our kids' teachers, principals, friends and even what they gossip about. Know the people who take care of your kids. Know your kid's friends. Know what your son or daughter does before, during and after school. Know what they think about, worry about.
Build trust with your child so they will come to you with issues. Over 100 people knew Valentine "shooter" was a problem. But few parents knew. The school knew. Students knew. The police did not know. Someone on YouTube notified the FBI last year that the shooter was a problem. FBI couldn't find him. No one talked to each other. Shooter's issues were swept under the rug. People need to talk with each other more. Talk to your child. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your child's teachers. Talk to your child's principals. Don't be afraid to speak up. Defend your child.
Shooting also reminds us that school budgets aren't being allocated properly. Spending Millions on a new stadium or new theater, instead of protecting our kids? Spending money on school administrators-superintendents' salaries and not our teachers? It's time for parents and other adults to reassess where school funding goes. Hiring armed security guards at schools is a huge deterrent for future shooters. Gun-Free Zones are wonderful targets for evil people.
If everyone in the Parkland community talked with each other (students, teachers, friends, neighbors, principal, police), the horrible tragedy that took 17 lives and maybe much more - would have been prevented. If each school dedicated funds toward student safety (eg. allowing teachers or principals to carry a weapon, hire armed security guards or closed circuit cameras), this tragedy would have been prevented.
Armed gunmen do not enter armed buildings. Evil takes the easiest road. Gun-Free Zones are easy pushovers. When my siblings were killed at my family's shop, that's what the gunmen said during homicide trial: "your shop was not armed. Other shops on street were. Your shop was an easy pushover."
If each parent, teacher, school administrator, school board member - across the US - put their fear, ego, politics on a shelf for the sake of young students - school shootings will not happen again.
It requires inner strength, a goal bigger than our individual selves to create solutions and implement them to protect our children. It starts at home. Expands to schools, teachers, principals, superintendents-administrators and School Boards. Raising kids today takes effort from the entire community, especially parents.
What I saw in the eyes of those students, as they answered media questions, was soul-less. Dead eyes. Every one of those children.
Why are they soul-less? It's not because they're immune to tragedy. Nobody gets immune to tragedy. It's because they're forgotten. Adults have forgotten how to protect them. How to teach them. Adults have forgotten how fragile their hearts and souls are. Adults expect kids to survive, overcome, adapt. But very few adults have shown them how to survive, overcome, adapt.
One first step: reduce their Social Media exposure. Reduce their time with phones & electronic equipment. Encourage, and even force, them to spend time outdoors. Remind them that human face-to-face interaction is best. Remind them they are loved and not forgotten. Ask them questions. Find out what bothers them. Stay interested in them. Stay interested in their lives. They grow up fast. Take the time to listen to your children. And remind them that police officers want to protect them too. Make sure they're not afraid of police.
School shootings aren't caused by one political party. They're caused by a huge fracture in the community. They're caused by lack of communication. That's the Second Step: Everyone involved with each school needs to talk with each other. Monthly school meetings would help.
There's talk about mental health issues being a problem. And a new wave of discussion: we shouldn't allow mentally ill to carry guns. There's one factor many people forget: evil exists. I saw it in the eyes of men who killed my siblings. Saw it when one of the men was executed. And I'll never forget the coldness, blackness in his eyes: pure evil. Evil exists. And evil doesn't care about laws, restrictions. Unless laws allow an evil person to do evil things (Gun-Free Zones, easy pushovers). Thankfully, evil isn't everywhere nor in everyone. Good exists more than evil. When evil surfaces, no laws will stop it.
We can fix, prevent future school shootings. If we, as adults, see the Big Picture, set aside petty differences and political judgments. The fix exists. It's an easy one. If adults show enough courage and love to protect their children. Let's protect our children. They need us.