While an elementary school should be a safe haven for our children, it was turned into a gruesome crime scene on Friday after a lone gunman killed 20 children and 8 adults.
And while we try to make sense of the unthinkable tragedy, we are left with so many questions — but are we asking the right ones?
Sure, we want to know what went wrong in the shooter’s life. What led Adam Lanza – an “intelligent, nerdy, goth, remote, thin” kid – to this mass murder?
But didn’t we do the same after 1999’s Columbine shooting? All I remember is being afraid of goth-like teens in trench coats after that media coverage.
Did we dig deep enough after that tragedy? Thirteen years later, a deadlier shooting occurred in a small town in Connecticut. What are we missing?
In a U.S. Secret Service Safe School Initiative report, “There is no one reason why school shootings occur, and not one type of [person] who becomes a shooter.”
But according to experts, there are preventative measures and telling signs to watch for.
“The findings clearly emphasize the importance of paying attention and listening to America’s young people” the report states.
Another study by the Children’s Defense Fund reports that we lose 2,800 children and teenagers annually to guns.
That staggering amount is more than the number of American troops who have died in any year in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
To summarize, more than twice as many preschoolers die every year from gun violence in America as law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty.
As the saying goes, denial is not just a river in Egypt. Are we avoiding the truth about our kids?
“Young people who need help often do not keep it a secret,” the U.S. Secret Service Safe School Initiative study continues. “They may exhibit obvious warning signs either through behavior or remarks, such as voicing problems or grievances, complaining about persecution or bullying, or showing signs of depression or desperation.”
The study shares another main factor: the shooters had easy access to guns.
“In nearly two-thirds of the incidents, the attacker(s) obtained the gun(s) used in the attack from their own home or that of a relative,” the study reports.
So it seems that mental health and gun control are important factors. As the old saying goes, prevention is key — so how can we use this research in the future?
How will we dig deeper this time? How can we prevent another school shooting? When will the violence stop.