Disclaimer: This is NOT a political post. We have no agenda, but to use our platform of millions of educators to open the discussion on a very serious matter.
As the wise Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the the things that matter."
Another mass shooting struck the nation yesterday at a high school in the small town of Santa Fe, Texas. A 17-year-old student armed with his father's shotgun and revolver, hidden under a trench coat, marched into school and shot dead 9 students, 1 teacher, and wounded many others. Police also found homemade explosives in and around the school.
Another nightmare for teachers, students, and parents around the country that has once again become a reality in our united nation, divided by views on gun policy and control, mental health support, and school safety. Thousands of teachers on the Bored Teachers Facebook page are arguing back-and-forth on the causes of these school massacres. Particularly since yesterday's Santa Fe tragedy, pro-gun believing teachers pose the question:
"How would banning automatic firearms have prevented this one? The shooter had an illegally-obtained shotgun, a revolver, and handmade explosives. Surely, no gun control would have stopped him from this heinous act!"
A valid point. Clearly, this disturbed teenager's decision to murder his classmates in cold blood, with possibly the intentions of blowing up others, and the desire to take his own life (as police discovered in his personal notes), was the result of something much deeper. Perhaps it is a lack of parental guidance and support, or inaction by others who noticed red flags with this student at school? Perhaps it is a lack of security at the school or untreated mental health issues. A lot of people (many teachers) argue that less people may have died if trained teachers were carrying guns at school — who might have been able to respond to the situation sooner, rather than hiding in a locked room. Some people blame it on video games, movies, virtual reality, cyber bullying, and war — that give young minds the impression that violence is the answer to their feelings of oppression and social frustrations. All valid points, in their own ways.
So, what can we do to stop this madness??
We live in a nation where we have the freedom to think and speak what we want. This is true. We have the right to practice our religion of choice, the right to a trial by jury, the right to vote, and rights to many other things, but we also have the right to do everything we can, to research and brainstorm intelligent ways, to protect our children. We work in a profession — teachers of all people should know — that should not reject and insult others for having their beliefs and opinions, that there are no right or wrong answers to solve a problem. This is a very complex problem. Now is NOT the time for teachers to separate, based on our differences in beliefs. Now is the time to come together, across every state, if change is what we want. We may not all agree on governmental policies and the cause of the violence that's plaguing our nation's schools, but we need to put our differences and opinions aside, and put our efforts together, for the future of our younger generations. They deserve better than to go to school every day in fear, wondering if they will be next.
But teachers can't do it alone.
Parents, students, school administration, government leaders, legislators, what can we all do NOW to stop this from happening again? Many pose the question: "Can it even be stopped from happening?" It's not going to be easy, but the answer is YES, it can. There are several other nations with the same family mishaps, the same mental health issues, the same video games, the same lack of school resources, the same school & cyber bullying, and the same school security precautions, with a much lower rate of school shootings. We can not lose hope in the fight for positive change.
As teachers — even most people think we do — we don't have all the answers. We don't know if one solution or the other is going to stop the school shooting madness. But just like we teach our students to think critically, we must re-teach ourselves to think critically, and work together with our parents, and communities, and governments, to do something about this. Let's start somewhere, something has to change, because nothing is working.
For those of you who were angered by the messages of "thoughts & prayers" being sent out across social media, and demanding action — we hear you. You're furious, you're scared, you're frustrated. So stop feeding the Internet trolls, and put your words on paper or email or into mega phones, and let them be heard by those who have the power to make real changes. But please don't forget to think and pray for the families and friends of all those innocent children whose lives, and loved ones, were brutally taken from them. In a time of mourning, thoughts and prayers do help those suffering from their loss, in their own ways.
And when the mourning time passes, it's imperative that we stand together, not divided, for together we have strength. Together we can make waves and see the change we want to see for our children, their children, and generations to come. This is not a calling to bear arms, nor is it a calling to ban arms. It's a calling to bring our minds together to find logical solutions for the sake of our kids, our lives, and our future.
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