Reflections: Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School

candles.jpgThis past week, my husband and I entered our son’s elementary school so that we could meet with his teachers for our winter conference. While we were required to sign in, we did not walk through metal detectors and were not asked for our bags to be searched. The reason — we know the security guard, he trusts us and nothing crazy has ever taken place at our local school.
Somehow I think those rules about signing into the school ledger are going to change dramatically now that a crazed 20 year old broke into a school in Newtown Connecticut and senselessly murdered 26 helpless individuals — including 20 defenseless children.
When our kids are no longer safe at school, what can we as parents do to protect them or shield them from something like this never happening again in their lifetime?
After reading and watching the reports about the tragedy, there are facts that are coming to light about the killer that he had a mental disorder, yet his mother still kept guns in her home. And those guns were not securely locked away so that he wouldn’t have access to them. Sure, anyone can say that if he didn’t have guns he would have found another weapon, but having them in his home made it readily available for him to exact revenge on poor unsuspecting first graders and their teachers.
I really am curious to find out more about Adam Lanz over the coming days and hoping we find out the answers to the following questions:
Did he play video games that encouraged senseless killing?
Why was he not taking medication or being treated for his condition?
Did he have any friends?
Where was his father?
Why hadn’t his older brother spoken to him in two years?
What was going on in his mind that drove him to murdering innocent human beings?
Was this a copycat crime that took place as a result of the other senseless shootings that have been occurring all over our nation?
What is happening to this current generation of 20 somethings who feel no remorse about taking a gun and snatching away the lives of children and adults who were deeply loved by their families, friends and neighbors?
According to one Sandy Hook elementary school dad, yesterday’s events was
“a powerless and terrifying experience.” And even President Obama seemed completely shattered after sharing details about this horrific tragedy when he wiped away tears and spoke about the poor defenseless children who went to school yesterday and will never return home to their families. “They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthday’s graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”
As parents, we need to not only hug our kids but teach them about what’s right and what’s wrong. When they are angry at us or someone else, we cannot allow them to find escape through dangerous video games which encourage annihilating others. If they have mental issues that could pose a danger to others, we need to make sure their condition is monitored on an ongoing basis. Most importantly, if you own a gun, keep it locked away in a safe and never share the combination with your child.
This recent tragedy could be the catalyst that will compel lawmakers to outlaw guns that are not used in situations other than hunting animals (which I think is pretty awful too but I’m not about to take on the NRA on that one). It’s time we take a stand and stop this insanity.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this tragedy and my heart aches for the community of Newtown. I know that no one can comprehend the magnitude of your loss. All we can do is be committed to teaching our children about the importance of being a compassionate human being; monitor your child’s behavior online — either through video game use and social media engagement and be honest with ourselves when it seems that they are spiraling out of control and most importantly, get them help when they need it the most.
For another perspective on the tragedy, read this post by Ross Ellis, founder of Love Our Children USA and Stomp Out Bullying.