Essays From A Dysfunctional Life

Murmurings about life as it is and as it can be.

Their Blood is on Our Hands

“The bloodshed 30 miles south of Houston is the worst mass shooting in America since February, when 17 people were gunned down at a high school in Parkland, Florida, according to a database of shootings maintained by the Washington Post.” (MSNBC 5/18/2018)

Since February.

I am angry. I am angry that there has been another school shooting. I am angry that we can no longer track school shootings by how many years ago the last one occured. We now must track school shootings in days.

It has been 11 days since the school shooting at Highland High School in Palmdale, California. Just 21 days prior to Highland, students were fired on by a fellow student as they engaged in a walkout demonstration against gun violence.

Today, more children are dead and there has been no significant changes in gun legislation.

“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement: ‘The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Santa Fe and those affected by today’s tragic shooting.’”

More thoughts and prayers, but little action to eliminate access to military style weapons. A-15s are still getting into the hands of school shooters. And more children continue to be murdered.

As of today, with the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, there have been 16 school shootings.

Recently I picked up a copy of the book Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. (K. Newman) It is a difficult read, but sheds light on issues related to mass shooting. According to Newman, school shooters have a number of issues in common:

  • Undiagnosed Mental Illness – Many school shooters have undiagnosed depression or schizophrenia at the time of the shooting.
  • Planning – School shootings do not tend to be random in nature. They are often planned weeks or months prior to the shooting. Often peers or family members are aware of some part of the plan, but may not connect it to a mass shooting event.
  • Family Dysfunction – While school shooters have come from a wide range of socioeconomic statuses, they often experience a high incidence of family problems including divorce, abuse, unstable housing, and low parental involvement.
  • Bullying – Many school shooters are on both the receiving and giving end of bullying, resulting in difficult peer relationships.
  • Access to Guns – Youth continue to have access to guns through family, friends, and blackmarket gun sales.

There are no simple fixes to end mass shootings, but I believe that we can prioritize our actions and make a significant difference:

Get serious about gun control.

  1. School shootings do not occur when guns are not available to children, by removing automatic and semi-automatic weapons from non-military personnel and by requiring routine gun safety education for all gun owners.
  2. Implement routine mental health screenings.
  3. Support students and family members in obtaining access to mental health services to improve early identification and treatment of mental health disorders.
  4. Improve family supports. Increase availability of affordable housing, parenting classes and support groups, and domestic violence supports.
  5. Treat bullying systemically. Bullying is rarely an individual problem in a school and is often one symptom in a dysfunctional system. Bullying campaigns that reach across all ages, genders, racial groups and support healthy relationship development within the school can help reduce the number of angry, marginalized students.

It is time to make the commitment to no more school shootings. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. No more children need to die because we lack the courage to insist on making real change to protect our children.

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