There has been so much conversation on school tragedy after school tragedy this year and the many ways that the government should handle it, or the educational institutions should fix it. Ideas like lock downs, gun control, hyped security measures are being thrown around. These things, though possibly a patch to slow the frequency of tragedy are not addressing the real issues of our students and their well beings.
The hot topic should be about finding the core of the problem, and the instability and detachment our students are experiencing from their community. There are changes that could take place that will require government involvement, but there are some simpler, more permanent solutions that don’t.
Let’s get the obvious hot topic out of the way so we can move onto actions that can be taken now. I would love to see some changes in the manner that gun sales are handled. I may be from Texas, but I have been an advocate for the idea of gun control since I was a young child.
If you need a psych eval to fly an airplane, or a home visit to adopt a child, you should need both to purchase a weapon of potential mass destruction. Check to make sure the mentally stable individual keeps their guns and their ammo stored in a safe away from the hands of home intruders as well as small children. Make this a routine requirement to maintain a gun license.
Take them off the shelves at any Wal-Mart USA or Sporting Store.
Don’t make guns so available. If the citizens of Alabama had to purchase their liquor from a state run liquor store, then why is there not a federally operated, high security facility that requires some sort of exclusive gun certification clearance to enter and obtain these potentially life threatening weapons?
When I was a student teacher the twelve year old students at several of the schools I worked with had a collective past that involved prison, drugs, and gang participation; they loved to brag to me (their teacher) how easy it was to obtain guns, the illegal kind. Why did they tell me this information? Because I provided a safe space for dialogue. These conversations sometimes found me on campus, sometimes they found me at my weekend job off campus.
I heard the stressful dramas that were far beyond their maturity levels from decisions on abortion, drug deals gone bad, or abusive parents.
Whether you’re a teacher, a counselor, a custodian, or a parent it is vital we have an open dialogue with every child we have access to. Pay attention to their school work, listen in on their private conversations in the hall, pay attention to their social media, and try to make connections on a personal level. When something seems off, speak gentle, be genuine, and reach out.
With open dialogue we can have a better understanding of a student’s insecurities, confusion, or frustrations. Every student is an individual trying to make an identity for themselves, they need to feel like they are important, that they stand out, and that they are impacting the world (positively or negatively).
When a student’s dialogue raises a red flag three things need to immediately happen:
- A strategy session needs to be held by teachers without the student
- An evaluation of the student needs to happen with a school counselor
- And a PTC needs to involve the parents in the dialogue
The main focus of all these meetings should answer the question: how can we utilize this students strengths, help them come to peace their weaknesses, peak their interest, and make them a vital part of the community as opposed to an “enemy of the state”?
Video Games & Social Media
We want gun control but yet we desensitize our children to violence with video games from a very young age. We want our kids to feel strong and confident yet we allow them accounts that antiquates their worth to a number of likes on a duck faced selfie.
Success in these cyber worlds provide students with potency, or leaves students yearning for more. Fame and most kills are sensationalized at a young age, they don’t remember a world before this like their teachers, counselors, and parents do. Something I’ve witnessed in the development of my eight year old stepson as that his line of separation between technology and reality is incredibly blurred for him. Sometimes as the adults we forget that.
Back To Reality
Perhaps if we shifted the focus from the sensationalization of egos and violence over to involvement into a healthy blend of sports (not cut-throat competitive), arts, community outreach, student clubs there will be a shift in the pain and emptiness our students are overwhelmed by. Let’s show interest in the student as an individual, really focus on the future they want, as opposed to the ones we have mapped out for them in our minds.
Let’s help them understand their strengths and weaknesses by showing them how to utilize both to make a real difference in the real world beyond Instagram fame and You Tube gaming channels.
Perhaps if they had potency, they’d have a strong sense of confidence, and would not seek out to outdo the OKC bomber in hopes of being sensationalized globally as a top kill success. Perhaps if they were able to identify their strengths and utilize them they would understand the worth of their own life and the lives of their fellow students around them.