Another school shooting. This time in Oregon and last I checked, 14 dead and 20 or so wounded. Yesterday we had one locally, but fortunately, only the school principal was shot, and he was back at school today. The kid who shot him was only 16, and is going to be tried as an adult on attempted murder. His father said he’d been withdrawn and angry at the world of late.
I hate that they are going to try him as an adult. Kids have no skills when it comes to coping with stress, rejection, bullying, etc. They can have a loving family, friends, and a decent support system, and still do something this stupid on a whim. Children don’t understand long term consequences. It’s physiological. Their brains aren’t done developing. They shouldn’t be held to the same standards as a 30-year-old, in my opinion. They are going to send him to prison for decades most likely, and that experience will ensure he never gets better. It’s a fucking trap.
I think we as adults can do better. I know we can. We should be teaching boys and girls coping skills while they are children. We should start doing this at age 5. By not doing this, we are failing our children. They aren’t born knowing how to do anything. They learn what they observe, and what they are taught as well. They are like sponges. We need to teach our kids about reality. Teach them how to grieve. Teach them how to survive being bullied. How to stand up for themselves. How to cope with intense emotions. We need to show them how we as adults do this, and let them see our example.
This means we need to collectively get our shit together. Kids today admit they don’t feel like an adult until they’re in their late 20’s at the earliest. There’s a reason for this. We haven’t prepared them for the world they are inheriting. We’re quick to label the new generation, but refuse to see that our label is more of a reflection of the parent generation than the one we try to sum up with a clever few words. Humans are too complex to throw them into groups based solely on when they were born. Ridiculous.
Bullies have always existed, but they are not to blame. If a child knows how to cope with being bullied, that child will be fine. Adult intervention will result if necessary. But that child who was taught how to cope with bullying will know that it’s something they can handle. It’s something they have control over. They aren’t blindsided with no clue how to react, feel, or respond. This is a scary world. It doesn’t start getting scary the day we turn 18. It’s scary from birth onward. Our kids need to be trained to survive in this world.
I was extremely sheltered as a child. On top of that, I had a child level mindset well into my 20’s. The Army almost sent me home for being dangerously naive. In my case, it was more a case of my being disconnected and in my own world than parental neglect. When the child is autistic, the training is different. My mom recognized that sex ed at age 14 would have been disastrous for me, and pulled me out. I didn’t have the fear of strangers necessary to ensure my survival. I was too trusting, and I was a wanderer. When I look back at my childhood, I’m amazed I’m still around to speak of it. The times were different, and I grew up in a small city. But I was also fortunate.
Today, the whole world is disconnected to a degree. The small town feel of a small city no longer exists. Neighbors are often strangers. Children don’t play outside in yards as much, and are usually glued to a screen. It’s different. It’s colder. Our kids need more training. I trust in my heart that if the 16-year-old boy who is facing adult charges was taught how to cope with his adolescent surge of testosterone, how to cope with the rage of feeling victimized, and knew his parents were aware of such things, he would be going to school tomorrow. Train your children for our current world. Please.