I think it's safe to say we are all still reeling from the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, but already we have another school shooting to contend with. A student who cops say had a hit list full of bullies at Taft Union High School in California opened fired inside a classroom this week. One victim is in critical condition, and the 16-year-old is in police custody.
It's about as good an outcome as we could want from a school shooting. Everyone is alive -- thank goodness. But the stories coming out of kids from Taft Union make me wonder if we've been coming at this whole school violence issue the wrong way.
Don't get me wrong, we need to talk about gun control. How a 16-year-old got hold of a shotgun and got it into a school building is something we need to get to the bottom of -- and fast. There were 28 kids in that classroom, and every single one could have died. That's unacceptable.
But according to teens from the school, the alleged shooter talked "all the time" about shooting people. The kid was known to "[tell] people that he's gonna kill them, or skin them alive or something, or eat their puppies."
This was supposedly going on since his freshman year.
And none of the kids talked to their parents about this? None of the parents talked to the school about this? None of the school folks took it to the authorities?
Sadly, I'm not surprised. Teenagers aren't exactly known to be the most forthcoming bunch in the world -- actually, even my 7-year-old acts like it's hard work to actually tell me about her day. And we parents tend to be pretty myopic when we talk to our kids about school. We want to know how THEY are doing. After all, we're not raising the other 100 or so kids in their class.
But that's just it; we're raising our kids amidst their classmates. What's going on with them is a big part of our kids' lives. Keying in to what those kids are doing isn't being nosy; it's being aware, it's properly arming yourself to care for your own kids.
If we want to protect our kids from school violence, we need to be proactive. Talk to your kids! Find out what's being said in the classroom. Ask about anything that could be a problem down the road. Remind them that these sorts of comments are unacceptable and need to be reported -- if not to a teacher than to you. And when you hear something, say something.
It could save a life.
Do you talk to your kids about what the other kids are saying in school? Have you heard of kids in your district making violent comments like the alleged shooter?
Image via Mad House Photography/Flickr