School shootings…who’s to blame?

To the families of the children, faculty, survivors and first responders who were impacted by the senseless shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, my heart and prayers go out to you. We send our condolences and prayers out to all lives lost and pray for healing to those injured.

 

The other morning I received a heartfelt message from my beautiful daughter, Mikaela (26), about the children and faculty who lost their lives in the Florida school shooting. Over the past several days, I too, have been watching young survivors in the news crying out for solutions by the government.  Their collective voices are being heard from coast to coast yet the narrative is still the same and probably matches that of the adults in the home; the need for more gun laws. This is such an emotional time in our country, people are being killed, injured, and images of terror are etched in our minds. It’s gut wrenching to watch news reports of these atrocities yet easy to place blame on GUNS and the organization that defends a citizens right to own and carry them (the NRA).  But can we all ask ourselves, who is really to blame? I believe, WE all are!

 

Over the past 40 years there has been a steady increase in the amount of violence presented to our children through technology and entertainment platforms.  It has become socially acceptable to push the responsibility of developing the child outside of the home, causing a disconnect between parents and their children.  We have in a sense abandoned our duty to nurture our offspring, leaving it up to outside forces (school officials, peers, negative influencers in the community, etc.) and as a result we are all taking part in creating “little monsters.”  The “alleged shooter” (I’ve always hated when people say that)… The lone gunmen who murdered 17 innocent children and adults combined (Nikolas Cruz) was reported by several individuals on various occasions as you can read here on CNN.com.

 

Why does it seem these incidents are starting to increase? I believe, we, as parents, have slowly allowed our children to get away from us. Over the past decade, the level of respect for authority (parents, teachers, law enforcement etc.) has diminished to a very dangerous level. The combination of violent movies/TV shows, internet access (violent viral videos), liberal school officials, and passive parents with a refusal to implement any form of physical discipline has made the children of today more out of control than any generation before them. I truly am concerned that our lack of attention has made them less empathetic and desensitized to what our parents once protected us from; death and violence.  Do you think, we too, are less empathetic and desensitized as well? I say yes… We are all becoming conditioned.

Our societal push towards political correctness has forced our children to further isolate those that are obvious threats to themselves and others.  We have pushed the “Pendulum of Acceptance” so far that the young people of today have moved away from informing (reporting) on each other; which does not allow for early intervention for those in crisis.  We are then forced to deal with children with antisocial personality disorders after they have reached their boiling point instead of stopping it before their true planning stages of attack.  The child with psychopathic traits can be identified and schools should have a standard operating procedure in place to be able to do just that, because it is never a surprise that a certain kid went on a KILLING SPREE.”  Everyone is dropping the ball and we are all accountable for allowing our institutions of learning to morph into an incubator for young killers.  Stop just blaming the THE GUN and look hard at those in your house.  It is time to stop merely attaching your opinion to the narrative presented by media outlets and politicians who have their own agenda for scaring Americans (selling ad spots and pushing for re-election).  It is time to take a good long look in the mirror.  Yes, I said it… and I’m calling out those who are leading the charge and jumping on the band wagon of the gun control push.  They are the main ones allowing their kids to curse at them and only threaten them by taking away their cell phones, video games and internet (but don’t). They continue to allow them to rack up points on violent games like “Grand Theft Auto” which rewards them for violence and killing (to include doing drive-by shootings and killing police officers).  And trust me these kids are getting more trigger time and building better skills in tactics than real police officers in “First-person” shooter games like “Call of Duty.”  We (parents) then allow unrestricted television as the children take in any TV series or movie associated with violence they choose (viewing rape scenes, fighting and murder).  Then to add insult to injury you drop the funds for Pay-per-view events like MMA fights, to feed their thirst for blood. Now, I too like the fights, but I’m a responsible adult!

Although I know my opinion, that violent video games and images are destroying our children, may be unpopular and heavily debated by experts; but we have got to use common sense.  As a former police trainer, I know officers are encouraged to practice visualization techniques to prepare themselves for violent encounters.  This is so they work out in advance their response to violence with “violence of action” (which simply means means the unrestricted use of aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy).  Taking another human life is not a natural act and it is the reason the military and police train the way they do (to include virtual “Shoot/Don’t Shoot Simulators).  But what is occurring is our children are also training themselves to commit violent acts as well.  And if they are not, at a minimum, they are becoming desensitized to the act of MURDER, which isn’t good either in my opinion.  Experiencing traumatic events, witnessing violent acts and death stays with you for a very long time.  I too, have struggled with PTSD from years of suppressing these types of images from my work and responding to major incidents on the police force.  I found myself longing for the need to view violent images and movies as well.  You need to know whether it is real or cinematic there is no difference in the human brain and it is harmful for the mental health of your child.  I recently had a family member inbox me on my Facebook page one of the most graphic “REAL killings” I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was a video depicting a member of the Mexican cartel literally carving open a man while he was still alive! The man, obviously in shock, could only moan in agony as his killer pulled out his intestines then cut out his beating heart.  I know, I should have closed my eyes or turned away.  But just like we all feel compelled to look at a bad traffic accident as we drive by, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of a dead body, I couldn’t stop watching.  Again, It could be because I’m conditioned and trust me, I wish I were not.  I told the person that sent it to me not to share the video with anyone else, as no one should have that “EVIL ACT” filed away in their minds.  What we view and witness can absolutely have a lasting effect on how we view the world.  I remember as an officer watching a lecture by one of the leading authorities on the topic (Lt. Col. Dave Grossman) who really provides a great breakdown on what violent visual imagery does to the minds of our children here.

 

I am not suggesting we keep our kids in a bubble.  We have to make our children aware that there’s a small percentage of bad people in the world that intend to do them harm. For their own protection, we must train them for violence because, unfortunately it’s the “new normal.”  Aside from that, we can’t allow these acts and images to saturate their young developing brains over our positive influences and rearing as parents.  I remember, when I was a young boy I had to sneak a listen to the vulgarities of Richard Pryor and could never really make out the images of sexual acts on the censored Playboy channel.  Now children in grade school have full access to porn sites, explicit language and viral videos packed with teens violently attacking the elderly in the “knockout game” or posting school fights on on sites like World Star. Whatever happened to you protecting the innocence of your own children?  Most of us might spend four hours with our young ones after they’ve been in school and with “friends” the majority of the day.  And we wonder why our kids don’t respect adults. As a society, we are not instilling good character, morals or discipline because we’ve allowed our children to become rotten from the inside (brain) out. We have simply allowed the computer take over as their DAD, Facebook as their MOM, Youtube as their crazy UNCLE and Google as their GOD. Shame on us…

 

I don’t believe taking guns away from good citizens is the answer because bad men don’t follow the rules.  According to SafeHome.org, you will find some states with the strongest gun laws have the most shooting incidents. There appears to be no real evidence that supports stricter gun laws, especially for those committed to breaking the law anyway. Sadly, what is a fact is more than half of the gun related deaths in our country is suicide according to Safe Home. I do think they should do better with background checks and I’m even in support of pushing the age requirement to the drinking age (21); but it won’t stop the problem.  Our kids do not fear consequences because there is little-to-no discipline at home.  What I think might work is legislation that forces parents to be accountable for the actions of their children under 18 years of age (with legal and financial implications).  And there are others who should absolutely be blamed and they are the school administrators.  These campuses are more vulnerable than ever and they have to do a better job of making our schools a “harder target.”  There are too many reasonably priced options on the market to help lock the bad people out.  And for those that do not understand the need for some trained school officials with firearms (with psychological evaluation and continual training) please remember this last incident in Florida.  In that case law enforcement officials (with guns) failed enter to “save the day” and positioned  themselves outside while the children and faculty were being slaughtered.  The teachers job should be more than simply becoming human shields.  They should be the last line of defense to keep your littles alive.

 

Bringing it back on topic, please know if you are calling for a ban on guns do the same for violent video games and monitor the use of internet by your own kids.  Give your children all the tools they need to be self aware and survive.  Below are a few more tips and suggestions:

 

  • Limit their hours watching TV
  • Encourage an hour of reading a few times per week
  • Sit down with them and talk without mobile devices
  • Teach them to call 911/for help instead of videoing bullying or other crimes against others
  • Do random checks of your child’s computer search history, text messages – there’s a line between privacy and neglect
  • Spank/discipline your children so the police don’t have to later
  • Contact your school administrators and Congressman to add metal detectors, armed guards (or police) and real active shooter plans to be practiced. At minimum you should know that your child’s school has a plan in case of an incident and what that plan is.
These are sad times and what I think should happen over gun control is a little more “parent reform.” It’s time we become more accountable for what we have allowed our kids to become and start to make changes.

 

Save the lives of our children!

Thank you for reading this blog post, comment below, I’d love to have a healthy dialogue about this with people I consider supporters and friends.

Be safe,
Stan