—David Hogg ( mass shooting survivor 2/14/18)
Valentine’s Day is a day for hearts, flowers, candy and love. It is a day when elementary school children exchange those little packets of Valentine Cards, middle school kids pick secret pals to exchange candy hearts with, and high school kids send each other “Valentine-grams.” It is 45 days into the year. It is a month and a half worth of all that the new year has to offer.
Once again, however, our hearts have more reason to cry than to rejoice. A high school in Broward County Florida, approximately 30 minutes from my house and 10 minutes from the school I taught at, joined the horrific club of schools that have encountered mass shootings. A troubled youth, an expelled student, returned to the school with a semi-automatic weapon and began shooting. As of now, we know that at least seventeen people were killed and many more injured. This marks the eighteenth school shooting in the United States this year, an average of one every sixty hours. How do we go on? How do we send our children and grand children to school tomorrow? What can we do?
I am sure that you expect me to go on about gun control, but I don’t believe that that is the only answer to these terrifying school shootings. You see, while I am a strong proponent of gun control and can list many reasons why, I believe in these cases the shooters would have found guns to use whether or not we controlled the use of weapons. It is deeper than gun ownership here. We need to get a handle on bullying in schools, depression in our youth and mental illness on the whole.
It is sometimes easy for an overworked teacher or parent to overlook a student who is dealing with bullying. We tell the children to “play nice” and we return to our busy schedules. The victim of bullying is left to fend for himself/herself. Most people suffer in silence and somehow come out the other end. There are those few however, whose lives are so dismal that the bullying becomes the straw that breaks their backs. They break, and these broken souls get back at the world in a way that has been shown to them over and over...with violence and weapons.
Mental illness, whether hereditary or learned, makes life difficult for its sufferers. Since it is not easily recognized...it doesn’t cause a rash, a runny nose, a hacking cough or a fever...it is easy to overlook or downplay the victim’s suffering. Our country doesn’t handle it well. Years ago the Reagan administration felt the need to cut spending and targeted funding for the mentally ill. They did away with a law that would have continued funding federal community health centers and eliminated services for those struggling with mental illnesses. That was harmful then and is harmful now. We all suffer when mental illness goes unchecked, and because of the stigma attached to it, most people are reluctant to seek help. Every school should fund a full time psychologist who might recognize and help a student like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz had recently lost his mother and his home. He was expelled from the high school he attacked, and was showing signs of depression and mental illness. He was such a classic case of a young man set to explode, that it is hard to fathom why no one came to the rescue. On the other hand, as a high school teacher, I saw dozens of students each year who seemed on the brink of an emotional breakdown. I spoke to their parents and often directed them to counseling, but I never contacted the FBI. Was I remiss? Each school should make sure that every teacher has a yearly refresher inservice course that teaches them how to recognize a major problem and where to go for help.
To stop these mass shootings, we need to stop bullying each other and start recognizing those who need help, and we NEED TO TAKE SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPONS OFF THE STREETS. What is wrong with our politicians in Florida. This state does not require a license to purchase a gun. In fact, before we vote for our next set of officials, I would like to show those in Florida the laws that we live under now.
I could not sleep last night, and I probably won’t sleep tonight. I spent many a weekend with my debate team at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and there are no words to express my emotions right now. My thoughts and prayers are with them and with all of us who lived to see another day where sanity took a vacation.
Since I do not have the heart to write a review on the murder mystery I read this week, I will share this little book I read for fun. Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style (Revised Edition) written by Natalie Jobity, is a perfect book for those who want to work on making their wardrobe fabulous without breaking the bank.
As always, a complete review of this book follows this blog.