Sandy Hook: 74 Lessons NOT Learned [OP-ED]
December 2012 was a horrible time for Newton Connecticut. It was a horrible time for us all after the school shootings that, once again, brought the spotlight onto violence in our schools. After one teenager killed 26 people (20 of whom were children), there was an epic wave of anger and grief and, we hoped, change.
Tuesday the 10th of June, though, we saw it again. Another fatal shooting at a school in the United States. And then, while we were talking about it in shock around the water coolers, one website statistic started to creep it’s way into our view: there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook.
Do you remember them all? No? Neither do I. And that is a shame. If Columbine wasn’t enough. . . if the shootings at the small Amish school in Pennsylvania were not enough . . . if Sandy Hook wasn’t enough. . . when will it BE enough?
I think of my son who is 12. He has been bullied at school. He has had some trouble with understanding how to deal with the complicated situations that are compounded by hormones. He talks with us about it but sometimes he just keeps it to himself. In one situation, it was too much and we tested out the schools no bullying policy — which really worked.
He tells us one afternoon that they had to stop a math test because of a drill. I asked where they go for tornado drills. He said, “it wasn’t a tornado drill, it was a shooter drill.”
It’s a drill where they all lock the doors and get out of sight as quickly as possible. Before you start with the ‘we never had that in OUR day in Oklahoma,’ you might remember doing drills for nuclear attacks. Of course, hiding under your desk probably wouldn’t do much in a nuclear attack, but you drilled for it just like I did.
This is NOT a rant about guns in Oklahoma. I’m pretty sure you can’t walk a city block without having a registered gun owner in this part of the country. It’s about how it keeps happening. . .and how we can be better parents, better friends and better communities. It’s about trying to understand the common threads that are woven into each of the 74 school shootings that have happened since Sandy Hook . . .and then fixing THOSE problems. If there aren’t guns, that won’t stop the feelings and situations that cause the violence (just ask the 22 people who were injured by a knife attack at Franklin Regional High School outside of Pittsburgh).
So, no matter where you are on the debate against guns, there should be NO debate about working to identify and fix the reasons a kid would pick one up, take it to school and create another day like Sandy Hook.
There are extremest views on both sides. Some taking apart the data provided by Everytown.org (yes, they have an agenda, too) and saying many of those incidents listed were not real because they were gang related or were vendetta incidents that just happen to be at the school. In my world — that is another coward’s way out of identifying what real problems exist and how to fix them. Gang-related violence can kill my kid who is walking down the same hallways, too.
I wish I could present now a top ten list of things to do to fix the real issues. I can’t. Much like you, I don’t really know why this is happening again and again. I don’t know why two little girls lured a classmate into a secluded area and then stabbed her 19 times because they wanted to see if a boogeyman would appear like they read about online. I don’t know why a teenager beat both his parents to death because they took his iPod away after he didn’t do his normal chores. I don’t know why three ‘bored’ teenagers shot and killed a baseball player on the street in Duncan, OK.
I do know that, just like if you fail a grade and have to do it over, we will learn this lesson eventually. It will be a hard lesson learned, and I would much rather learn it NOW than have to repeat the exercise over and over.