On Wednesday as Scott and I had a Valentine’s Day lunch in a Mexican restaurant, news flashed on the TV screen above our heads. I’m not a fan of televisions in restaurants and usually tune them out, but this time I couldn’t. The school shooting in Flordia was unfolding. I barely ate my food. I prayed for the families and first responders involved in the tragedy. I just wanted to go pick up our boys at school and hug them and take them home.
This is the 18th school shooting since New Year’s day. There were seven school shootings by this time last year. A lot of these shootings don’t even make the national news anymore because it’s so common. Right now the United States is averaging one school shooting a week.
What is happening in America?
The day of the Florida shooting was Valentine’s Day. And the first day of Lent. With tears in my eyes, I told my husband and boys I love them as I sent them off to school the following morning knowing seventeen families sent their kids and spouses off to school the day before and their loved ones didn’t come home.
When did going to school become a battlefield?
We are a nation at war with something many of us don’t even understand. And everyone will argue about guns as they always do after these mass shootings, but the terrible truth is we have a problem bigger than guns. We have raised a generation of kids desensitized to killing. How has this happened in America?
Our friend, a retired Special Forces Army Colonel, Fred Dummar, posted this link to a book on his Facebook wall this morning: On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman exploring the psychology of the act of killing, and the military and law enforcement establishments’ attempt to understand and deal with the consequences of killing.
Fred says “You might not agree with everything the author David Grossman has to say, but he pointed out in 1996 that we were creating a society desensitized to killing. The desensitizing nature of first-person shooter video games (call of duty, etc.), a relaxing of parental and societal structures/discipline, and easy access to guns for the impressionable young minds is a deadly combination.” Fred would know, he’s led soldiers into battle in both the Iraq and Afganistan Wars.
When I was a kid, nearly all the boys I grew up with owned guns. Students even brought their guns to school and left them in their pickup trucks because they were either going hunting before or after school. I’d never heard of a school shooting until 1991 when an ex-student walked into my cousin’s high school and killed a teacher and a handful of students and then took a classroom of teenagers hostage. For hours, we didn’t know if my cousin was dead or alive. My cousin hid in a bathroom and was found unharmed. It was a strange, awful event that felt as random as a falling star. And it was just the beginning.
Violent video games rose in popularity in the 1990’s when our first three kids were little. By the time our three oldest hit high school, Scott and I realized we’d have to make rules for our teenage son, like no war video games with the little brothers around. We struggled to keep this rule. The really violent games we didn’t allow at all. What was a small battle with our first set of kids a handful of years ago, has become a big battle with the sons we still have at home. The digital age has made it harder than ever to be a good parent. And I do believe violent video games and all the violent movies and television shows have taken a toll on our country.
What we have brewed in America is a perfect storm. A country with more guns than people and a generation not afraid to kill. Actually, a generation trained to kill by these first-person violent video games. The availability of guns hasn’t changed. Our society has changed. Children are stabbing and strangling each other as well. And youth suicide rates have gone through the roof. I believe the digital age has a lot to do with these heart-breaking statistics. Social media only adds to the madness of it all. If you want more information about kids learning to kill, here is a book that might help you. I have not read this book yet. I’m not sure that I will.
My heart is so heavy over this tragedy. I asked Scott what he thought was really causing all these school shootings and he said, “Lack of good dads.” The Florida shooter was like so many other school shooters, raised by a single mom. She died of the flu in November, leaving the troubled teen an orphan. He was already unstable and people were afraid of him. And he was armed.
I know this is a hard post. I’m sorry. If you are a parent battling the rise of the screens and violent video games at your house, my heart goes out to you. I believe in the power of prayer. Scott and I have begun praying for God to help us conquer the screens in our home. We are trying to have our boys read more at night and play with traditional toys, instead of playing video games or being on their screens after their school work is finished. I think we all can agree things have to change. We can’t go on this way. Homes are the foundation of our society. If we changed our homes, it would change America.