School shootings have seemed to become less prevalent over the last several years. However, in light of the recent shooting at Chardon High School in Ohio and Oikos University, we should all be asking “why?”. Why do kids feel that shooting their peers and instilling fear in their classrooms and around the nation is the only solution to their problems?
Some people would point to shooter T.J. Lane’s childhood as cause for his rampant behavior. Lane is described by multiple news sources as a “troubled teen” having come from a “broken home with a long history of violence and abuse”. While empathy goes out to Lane for this difficult childhood, this should not be used as an excuse for his behavior. Thousands of children are subjected to violence and abuse on a daily basis, but not all of them engage in this erratic behavior. A well-known example is Oprah Winfrey. Several family members beginning at age 9 molested Winfrey, and at age 13, she ran away from her abusive home. Although Winfrey later became pregnant and continued to suffer difficulties, she later overcame these setbacks to become the incredibly successful individual known worldwide.What does Oprah Winfrey have to do with T.J. Lane? The answer is simple. They both have experienced abuse and violence in their past. However, Winfrey also made the conscious choice to not let her struggles define her sole being. The choice was made to succeed. T.J. Lane has used his past as a crutch. One’s past does not cause future behaviors. What causes future behaviors is the individual. The individual chooses to engage in the behaviors they display. Lane chose to bring a gun to his school and fire at classmates.
Yes, it can still be said that the system failed Lane in recognizing and subsequently failing to provide treatment for his psychological needs. It can still be said that his family and support network failed him in not serving as role models and educating him on right and wrong behaviors. All of these can influence future behavior, but not one of them can be the sole cause of it.
So what do we do now? Why do students still feel a need to shoot as a means to solving their problems? We could say that it is the general society with instant gratification and media imagery and hype of guns and other mass weaponry surrounding our children in every direction. We can come up with a hundred or more reasons of why T.J. Lane chose to resort to shooting as a solution to his problems. However, the only real solution is to care. If we, as a society, care for our children and recognize the uniqueness in each of them, we can better meet their individual needs. Every person is unique, and when we recognize this, we can more easily recognize the signs that trouble is churning in the mind of a “troubled teen” and do something to prevent it.
Let us all care for and recognize the individuality of our children in order to protect us all from the erratic behaviors of “troubled teens”.