Once again our country has been rocked by a school shooting that took the lives of youth and left us with the question, why? What motivates a young person to become so disillusioned with life they resort to killing fellow students or teachers to alleviate their pain? What do they hope to gain by snuffing out the lives of others and often losing their own lives by their own hands?
While the Columbine shootings set the standard for mass school shootings, each attack that has followed has only increased the horror we experience as observers of the carnage. It doesn’t really matter how many innocent lives are taken because it isn’t only the numbers that stun us. The fact that someone with so much life ahead of them consciously takes up arms and cold bloodily assassinates their peers is more than we can comprehend.
Schools have taken steps to prevent these tragedies. They have installed metal detectors, banned all weapons from school property, instructed teachers and school personnel on how to deal with these situations, and encouraged students to speak out if they suspect one of their fellow students is talking about violence. Yet we still have school shootings. How do these troubled killers slip through the cracks?
Why doesn’t anyone see the imminent danger and warn authorities of the possibility of disaster?
Perhaps it is beyond our comprehension that someone we know could be so troubled. Certainly the boy who sits in class every day would never really kill anyone. Our friends, our students, our siblings, or our children could never be so disturbed they could perform acts of violence so extreme that others would die at their hands. But in fact these shooters do have families, classmates, and teachers who see them daily. They interact with us, saying all the right things, apparently dealing with the difficulties inherent in being a teenager. It’s no easy feat to navigate the waters of adolescence. There will be students who will be cruel and bully, teachers who are impatient and don’t always deal fairly, family members who judge and criticize. Middle and High school are the training grounds for adult hood when we will put the lessons learned to use in the grown up world. For some these early lessons seem to be so overwhelming they never reach adulthood.
I have no answer for these events; these disturbing and incomprehensible acts of violence. I do know we have to figure something out. There has to be a way to foresee the moment when a young person reaches the point of no return and snaps. There has to be a way to save more youth from untimely deaths. Instead of publicizing the horrors of what happens let’s find a way to use what we learn to reach out and help the desperate before the body count rises any more.