How We Can Help Prevent the Next School Shooting

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This has been burning in my soul ever since I read the headlines of the school shooting in Florida. So heart breaking for everyone involved and for all of us on the sidelines looking on.

Painful.

Scary.

Heavy.

Heartbreaking.

I stand with all those survivors and those mourning the deaths of those they loved. The parents, teachers and students.

I’m so sorry for your pain. As a parent, a former teacher and in the far distance past a former student, I hurt for you. For your loss.  I can not imagine, but I care and I love all of you.

But I think my heart hurts the most for the dear boy who caused all of this, the shooter. I hurt for him deeply.  And I feel almost defensive of him today as I see peoples comments and judgements. Not because what he did wasn’t absolutely horrible and wrong but because I feel his pain.

I see his hurt.

His loneliness.

And all the different situations that led to his heart being so inflamed with pain that he chose to shoot up a school.

Once again, lets get this straight. I’m NOT excusing him or in any way saying he is not at fault, I’m just saying I feel for him

This kid was failed over and over.

I know you’ve read the details, but did you really hear them? Did you really see them?

This hurting boy not only lost his first family through adoption, BUT  he also lost his adoptive family through death. (My heart breaks for him.)

And then the school expelled him- loss of his school family.

I’m not saying there wasn’t issues on his part that led to his being expelled, but it still had to feel like rejection and abandonment all over again to him.

I know what trauma does to the brain. I know how hard it is for kids that are hurting to cope when they are all alone.

I know how hard it is for them to make wise choices when all they can see and feel are those triggers.

I know how hard it is for them to regulate their bodies and reactions when they are in survival mode.

And no, he didn’t respond right. And he is responsible for that.

But I can’t help but wonder what if …

the teachers had been trained in trauma issues and been able to respond better to the issues at school that instead escalated and led to his being expelled?

he had been able to have had a good solid caring adult, whom he could feel safe enough to confide in?

he had had a good trauma informed therapist?

he had had a church that loved on him, knew how to help him through the pain of his past pain and deep losses?

someone had noticed how very sad and in pain he was and truly cared and listened?

I do not know all the details. Maybe he had some of this but very likely he didn’t.

And guess what , there are so many other hurting kids out there just like him, who might just be the next school shooter.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to sit on Facebook and debate gun control and the horrible deterioration of our nation’s youth or are you going  to get out there to be Jesus to the world?

Jesus went out and met people right where they were. He didn’t just walk by the hurting and hand them a tract and wish them a good day.

Over and over and over again, we see him, getting down into the ‘dirt’  with them, loving on them, building trust with them, befriending them, and helping them.

Meeting them right where they were.

He saw the need of their hearts not just their behaviours.

Sure, this generation needs Jesus, just like every single generation before has but you can’t expect someone to believe in the  unconditional love of God if they have no idea what real love is. You can’t expect them to trust if all their lives they’ve only felt rejection and abandonment. You can’t expect them to find the real Jesus if all they feel is shame, and judgement.

So guess who has the wonderful opportunity of showing them love, of helping them build trust, and just showing them JESUS.

You and me.

  1. Let’s start looking for those around us that are hurting.  And make meaningful connections.                   Looking.  Keeping an eye out. Not allowing ourselves to be so preoccupied with all of our own daily stuff. (Preaching to myself here. Totally.)     Ya, I mean that boy with the sad downcast eyes just sitting on the bench as you walk into Walmart. Or that girl just wandering kind-of-lost looking through the aisles. Or many the man just sitting all by himself over under the tree at the park? Or maybe the mom with the overwhelmed eyes at the coffee shop?

Just a little side note, but one that really woke me up the needs right here in our own town….  Do you realize that there was a couple in Great Falls here that had to sleep on the street all night with just a few thin blankets just last month? Ya, in these winter temps. They got stuck here when they ran out of money for the rest of their bus fair to Billings. They spent the next day at the library just to stay warm. Thankfully, someone was able to provide a motel for them and see that they made it to family in Billings the next day. But just hearing that really woke me up. Right under our noses a pregnant lady and her husband spent the night outside in the cold. Would I have noticed them had I seen them at the library that next day, so desperate for help because they didn’t want to spend the night like that again, or would I have been too preoccupied helping my six little book worms manage their book consumption? Kind of shook me up, and rightly so.

2. Become trauma informed. This is one I’m extremely passionate about, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉  There is so much good information out there that can better enable us to truly help people. To really be able to meet people where they are at. To be able to see how trauma has effected their brains and how to better deal with someone in survival mode. To be able to look beyond the outward reactions and see the pain inside them. To notice mental health issues.

Having an understanding helps us know how to respond in ways that may really be healing and connecting to them, and also will help us know better the signs that they need more help than we are able to give them. And if so they need us to stand beside them and fight for them get the medical/mental health help  that they so desperately need.

If you are at all interested in becoming more trauma informed I’d love to share some good resources with you. It truly has been life-changing for us on so many levels.

3. Remember ‘perfect love’ casts out fear. Fearful hurting people hurt people.

Fear is the opposite of love and anger is fear’s bodyguard.

Hurting people are going to lash out.

And God’s love is the antidote for that fear.

As a child of God you have that gift to offer this hurting, fearful world. These hurting souls do not need more condemnation, more rules, more judgement, more ‘if you just tried harder’, just suck it up and be thankful, they need God’s love, through you.

Come alongside them. Give them the gift of connection. Of belonging. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you like someone to do for you if the roles were reversed?

Let them see LOVE. For then they will be able to see God.

And as we notice people, see their hearts and meet them right where they are at, and as we let that healing love of Jesus flow out of us to them, we may just stop the next school shooter.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” John 1:5

 

 

 

 

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