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The Rise of School Shootings and The Demise of Teaching “Ownership”

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.


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.

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  1. Patricia Hiaeshutter

    Good article. Parental discipline is non-existent in most cases these days—parents want to be friends to their children instead of parents. They seem to think “time out” is adequate discipline and fear that using
    the word “NO” will stunt their psyche. There is also an issue with hyper-activity that has been mis-diagnosed as a Ritalin deficiency instead of possible disciplinary issues or even food allergy, chemical (dyes)
    sensitivity or environmental exposures as a cause….So instead of investigating it there is a mad dash to
    put kids on a Ritalin type drug. It is exploding. The side effects of this mis-diagnosis and drug exposure is
    further drug use, abusive behavior n lack of control. I am a retired Reg. Nurse(20 yrs), psych degree n 25 yrs as a Polygraph Examiner. I have seen these kids-teenagers after yrs on this drug in trouble with the law and unable to distinguish right from wrong. The pathway to metabolize Ritalin products is also the one
    used for harder drugs so these kids crave more. This concept is not new and MANY professional articles
    have been written on the subject for 30 yrs or more n even testified before Mc Govern’s Health & Human
    Services committee back in ?1977-78 I believe…But nothing was done. Tackle this issue, improve
    parental n school discipline, stand up to the junk food industry n what kids eat, control the media crap
    they are exposed to and cell phone use and maybe we can make some headway to reduce this awful

  2. leadership from the top of the heap is what is causing bullying….trump is the worst idol for the future of USA. All this moron does is bully people no matter who and think there will be no consequences. USA is going downhill and taking its people with her. That is the problem ‘TRUMP’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Richard Sutherland, J.D.

    Truth is, bullying probably was a major factor in the shootings in Texas. I grew up in Texas in the ’40’s and ’50’s. Bullying was a problem then, and still is. The truth is that without their so-called “nuclear weapons,” i.e., rapid fire military-style weapons with large capacity magazines, fewer people would die and be injured.

  4. As an educator of 32 years – and counting – I found this article/analysis – to be spot on! Abidication of responsibility, supplanted by misguided enabling parental behavior, is at the very core of this insidious epidemic. There is an inescapable Catch-22 in identifying, and attempting to intercede, in volatile student situations: the parents who fail in their sacred duty to instill the personal values and accountability to prevent these atrocities – the central message of the article – are frequently offspring of dysfunctional parenting themselves, and/or suffering from depositing arrested development. In that sense, you are expecting children to be raised properly by “handicapped” parents, in many respects emotionally, psychologically, and yes, spiritually, children themselves. A generationally perpetuating vicious cycle, it will require a host of concerted interventionist collaboration, along with the attendant requisite resources. There is no easy answer/solution, with barricading schools a treatment of symptoms, a stop gap palliative that ignores the underlying disease. From this perspective, putting an end to the slaughters is a daunting challenge, and prospects are somewhat discouraging. A start might be mandatory parenting classes, required of all those expecting. Not only could effective parenting strategies be inculcated, but local authorities could be alerted – very early on – as to prospective parents wholly unprepared for its demands…with on-going support. Seems to be the only real hope for breaking the vicious cycle, one that reproduces the inadequacies.

  5. Gotta tell you—I am just pleased that, for a change, there was no overt blame placed upon the liberals or a liberal education.

    Responsibility belongs with both the child and the parent. Remember the “affluenza” defense for the teen who killed people while driving?

    How about this? Hold parents partially or totally responsible for the actions of their minor children. If a kid steals a gun(or is given a gun) from his adult guardian and shoots up a school, arrest the adult as well as the kid. I am quite sure that parents will make sure that the gun is properly locked up. If a kid kills or maims someone while driving a car, and he has a record of unsafe driving, arrest the parent as well. Just sayin….

  6. Hi Conservative Mom,

    You are such a hard ass, too good to be true! Especially with the school shooting article. I don’t think anyone is making excuses for any of these “shooter” kids. If anything,they are trying to pinpoint the disconnects in hopes to prevent future shootings. We all know the shooters will be held accountable for their actions, as do the shooters themselves by either commiting suicide, because they know what the alternative will be; as do the “younger generation” of school shooters who are too arrogant to pull the gun on themselves and force society to pay for their imprisonment for the rest of their pathetic lives. I’d kiss your ass if your kid was the school shooter and you said, “to hell with everything, he must be held accountable.” Give me a break

    In fact, there have been at least two seperate instances in which the parents said something along the lines of that which you “think it would be nice – just once- if one of the parents would say….” I don’t have first hand knowledge of how these kids were disciplined by their parents, but most of the reading i’ve done does not signify that the parents did not hold there children accountable or make excuses for their actions, in fact quite to the contrary.I think the psyche of the school shooter goes a hell of a lot deeper than a child who is not held accountable for his actions. I have no problem with you publishing this.

  7. brilliant article and hits the nail right on the head. seen that sort of response from so so many parents these days and the kids are getting more and more out of control as the years go by. this trend will change when parents (and teachers) start parenting and being teachers again instead of this softly softly everyone gets a prize stuff

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