Shortly after I posted “My ‘One Word’ for 2018” the tragedy of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida occurred. I thought of the bravery of the students, staff and first responders on that day. I thought of the bravery of parents who patiently waited for news of their child. I thought of the bravery of the counselors who consoled the students and faculty in the aftermath.
What I didn’t see as brave is the multitude of social media posts that point fingers and apply blame. We have had an epidemic on our hands for over a century. Our children for over a century have been less important than the blame and rhetoric that seems to fill our media. If our children were truly the priority it wouldn’t be about gun control, or poor parenting, or the moral decline of our society. It would be about resources being allocated to best serve our children. Prioritizing services to provide resource officers trained to deal with the variety of threats that may come into our children’s schools. Please remember, this last one was another student, but many times it is not. Often times the violence isn’t with a gun… look at the recent tragedy in China.
It is time we stop blaming poor parenting, guns, schools, and most of all children. The following was posted on a fellow friend’s Facebook feed:
I responded with the following: “There has been documented school violence for over 100 years. What is not told is that more violent acts are prevented that happen now than before gun laws were in place. Unfortunately, violence happens without guns too, but the media only focuses on guns. Our focus should be on keeping our children safe and how we can address mental illness. Until the rhetoric changes and the argument is focused on something else other than our children nothing will change.“
Children with mental illness are suffering while we debate over guns. Educators are doing everything within their means and beyond to meet the needs of children and families with limited or no resources and little training to address concerns of mental illness and safety. As stated in my response above until our focus and priority both in funding and rhetoric changes, nothing will truly change.
I will not tell a parent that it is their parenting that failed us. I will not tell students that it is the moral decline of their generation that has failed us. I will not tell a student who has experienced great difficulties mentally, physically or emotionally that more gun control can alleviate their challenges. I will not tell a teacher that it is up to them entirely to ensure that they solely can prevent another atrocity like this or that the answer is that they carry a weapon on school grounds. I will not place blame on our counselors or expect myself or my fellow administrators to think less like an educator that presumes positive intent, and instead, assumes worst case scenario.
What I can do is what was so eloquently stated by a fellow Professional Learning Network colleague, Travis Jordan (@Supt_Jordan) in a tweet he shared the Sunday after the horrific event in Florida.
This is how I believe being brave can make a difference. This is how I can help the students be brave, the staff be brave, the first responders be brave and the parents be brave. I refuse to blame. I choose to be brave.