This year has been plaqued with school shootings. Each horrific event has people taking to Twitter, Facebook, and other news forums to surmise and debate what could have possibly caused a high school student to go on a deadly rampage.
Quite frankly, public speculation of these incidents has been sussed out, ad nauseam. It’s like going to see a horror movie but already knowing how it’s going to play out – you already know what happens; you already know the lines of all the leading parts.
People will suggest that the shooter had a mental disorder. They will point to that time he was turned down for the school dance or he was called names in the school cafeteria. People will speculate that this all could have been avoided had other students reached out to him, as if to suggest the outcome was really the fault of the other students.
Shockingly, we rarely afford this same leeway and understanding to gang members, religious extremists, or serial killers. We don’t consider their back history – how maybe they got to where they are because of a horrible upbringing, no family structure, and/or excessive bullying. With everyone else, our media, our citizens, and our judicial system forces individuals to be held accountable for their actions. But not school shooters. Why?
In the wake of the most recent school shooting at a Texas high school, which left ten dead and 13 injured, the shooter’s father went on record to say it was bullying and social isolation that led to this horrific incident.
AND THAT, RIGHT THERE, IS THE PROBLEM WITH PARENTS THESE DAYS.
When my parents were in school, they would get paddled by nuns were they to act out of line. When I was in school, corporal punishment was a thing of the past. However, if I were to get called into the principal’s office or had issues with a teacher, the question from my parents was ALWAYS, “What did you do to deserve this punishment, and how are you going fix it with your superiors?”
(Oh yeah, and “You’re grounded until you figure out how to get your act together and show some respect and responsibility.”)
Granted, I was a good kid and this maybe happened three times my whole tenure of schooling, but not once did my parents put MY actions on the shoulders of the teachers, the other students, or the administration.
Nowadays, the conversation had changed drastically. I have quite a few friends (and a sister) that have worked in the school system and every, single, one of them cites parents as their chief complaint. Why? Because parents these days blame everyone and everything else on their child’s behavior except for the actual kid.
This might be single-handedly one of the worst ways to approach raising a child. Excusing little Johnny’s atrocious behavior by placing the responsibility on everyone else’s shoulders is sending the message to Johnny that everything he does in life is the result of someone else’s mistakes. It’s teaching little Johnny that ownership over his behavior and the outcome of his actions is NOT something he needs to concern himself with. This philosophy is (at best) insane and (at worst) dangerous.
I sympathize with the parents of these school shooters, I really do. I get that they want to explain away something awful that their kid did. More than anything, it’s probably a coping mechanism.
However, it would be nice if – just once – one of these parents said, “There is no excuse for my child’s actions. He may have struggled with some mental and social issues, but that doesn’t lessen the gravity of his selfishness and reckless behavior and he deserves whatever the legal system throws at him.”
It would be nice if EVERY parent gave their kid a sense of autonomy and ownership over their actions, regardless of how inconsequential they seem. One of the most valuable lessons you can bestow upon your offspring is an understanding that the only thing you have control over in this life is your own behavior and reactions to adversity. A true test of becoming an adult is owning who you are and taking responsibility for the mistakes you’ve made and the bad things you’ve done.
Perhaps shifting the blame from everyone else onto the shoulder’s of our very own will be the catalyst in healing a society that has lost of the importance of personal responsibility.