Stopping Future School Shootings: It’s Not About Guns
It's safe to say that we are all extremely outraged and frustrated over school shootings that are happening all too often, including the recent shooting that took place in Parkland Florida. We agree that it has to stop, we have to put an end to it, but what we can't agree on is how. One grade school teacher may have found the most brilliant answer to ending future school shootings and it's not about the guns.
Another mass shooting happens at another school. We are all outraged, we send our thoughts and prayers, we get on social media to argue the merits of gun control and tougher laws, we criticize our government for not doing more to help with mental health of our children, but we don't actually really do anything constructive other than blast out our opinions on social media. This may make us feel better for a short time, but then we all start to forget about what happened and the victims, until the next shooting. There is always a next one, there have been 25 fatal school shootings since Columbine in 1999.
Other than sending out our thoughts and prayers what can we do? We all agree it's got to stop, but how? Do we outlaw all guns? Make gun laws tougher? Outlaw AR-15s? Add more security guards? Allow teachers to carry guns?
Murdering someone is already against the law, so is adding more new or tougher gun laws going to deter someone from doing something that is already immoral and against the law?
I've heard that we need to get students more and better mental health evaluations and help? That can't hurt, but I'm not sure that's the answer either.
And of course we can always send out thoughts and prayers whenever another shooting happens, but I think we can agree, that's not working. These are are all ideas that could help, but in my opinion not one of them would stop what is happening way too often in our schools right now. Even once is too often. According to studies, most school shootings are never spur of the moment. They take great planning and usually come with warning signs or red flags.
I'm not saying any of this to get you to agree or disagree with me. I, like you, are sick and tired of hearing and having to report about mass shootings every few weeks. I know something needs to be done, but I'm at a loss as to what that is. That is until I read this article about a teacher who may have the most brilliant idea about curbing school shootings and it doesn't involve gun control, psychiatrists or medication.
Most of us can trace our memories of school shootings to Columbine High School in Colorado,19 years ago in 1999. Since that time there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the U.S.
There have been other mass school shootings before. I lived and worked in Stockton California in 1989 when a man shot up Cleveland elementary school, killing 5 children and injuring 32 before shooting himself. What is different since Columbine is that in a lot of cases, such as the Florida school shooting last week, it that it's students that are attacking and killing their school mates.
Since Columbine, there is a school teacher, that has been doing something with her classes of 10 and 11 year olds every Friday, that she believes could be the key to stopping school shootings.
I saw the headline and read the article with a sense of skepticism, but by the time I had finished, I realized, with tears in my eyes, just how brilliant this teacher might be.
Every Friday afternoon, this teacher asks her 10 and 11 year old students to take out a piece of paper and write down the four children they’d like to sit with in the next week in class. She also asks them to name classmates who have been good citizens in the class that week.
After the students go home for the weekend, she takes those slips of paper and studies them. She’s not looking for good citizens or a way to re-arrange the class so the students can sit with their friends. She’s looking for patterns of behavior. She’s looking for the kid that’s being ignored, the kid who doesn’t have any friends, the kid who never gets recognized. She’s also looking for bullies.
"She's looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.”
By doing this little exercise every week, she’s says that she’s able to identify the children who need help making friends or just getting involved and getting noticed. More importantly it’s a bully deterrent, because as she said, “most teachers and a lot of adults know that bullying usually happens outside eye shot and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But, the truth comes out every week on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.” She is 100% convinced that this exercise, if done in every school room in every school in America, we could stop school gun violence once and for all.
Does it seem ridiculous? Does it seem too simple…too easy?
Maybe it’s so brilliant and nobody has thought of it before, because of, its simplicity and maybe that’s why nobody, other than this teacher, has thought to put it into practice.
I know of a school in north Idaho that has a friendship bench. It's a bench that students can go to and sit on when they are feeling lonely or isolated. Other students, when seeing a student on the bench are encouraged to sit with that student and talk to them. I talked to parent over the weekend that says that there is never a time that when someone sits on the bench, that at least 2 or 3 students sit to talk with them.
It can’t hurt to try something like this and it quite honestly will be better than sending out thoughts and prayers to the victims, every time another mass shooting happens, because that, so far, is one thing that is definitely not working.
Something in America has changed and I don't have an answer. I just know that when I was in school, we didn't have mass school shootings and gun laws were much more lax than they are now, so what has changed?
I don't have the answer, but I think it's a good time we have an honest open discussion.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Share below in the comment section or on our Facebook page.