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As we ponder the WHY behind the motives of the Florida Child-shooter, Nikolas Cruz, we can only presuppose what prompted this young man to walk into Stoneman Douglas High School, that fateful Valentine’s day, 2018 with a made-up-mind to carry out the carnage taking the lives of 17 innocent people.
Of course, via media outlets and then countless interviews from several of Cruz’ peers and closet contacts, we know a bit about his story, and what a complex story to unravel.
As an advocate against bullying I’ve thought about the many different variables that could have prompted such an unfathomable massacre, but I realize we’ll never have a final on this one account.
While it may be extremely difficult to begin uncovering the many layers causing his horrible actions, I feel we must attempt to take a closer look. And, even though Cruz may be 19 years old, to many of us he’s still a very young kid.
Where do we begin?
Whilst, I refuse to make excuses for Cruz, as I’d never want to pose accusations against any one person, or another making them responsible for what Cruz executed on his own, we must begin to have effective dialogue and discourse about possible antecedents leading to his painful actions determining if collectively we can do all that we can to save other youngsters from feeling this is the way to carry out their pinned-up feelings, or anger.
One of the precursors, I’d like for us to consider is Cruz’ family background, early home life experiences and family interactions. We may never know how dysfunctional or unstable his past has been, but isn’t it worth consideration? I have to wonder about the early stages of his life, in terms of bonding with his parents and the emotional stages we must all move through successfully in order to be called ‘normal’ or balanced. How was Cruz treated? Did he feel special? Was there respect in his home in terms of roles? Was there discipline? Did he observe chaos? Was he a victim born to parents using alcohol? Did he feel abandoned?
Yes. What I’m getting at here is parental bonding. I know that I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ here, but are there young parents or neighbors in your life who could use a ‘pat and a push’ on effective bonding with their youngsters? What about new parents or parents-to-be? I love sharing books similar this one at baby showers. Here’s another favorite:
Another area of concern is whether or not Cruz had friends at school. I’m not talking about occasional interactions, but true friends. Did he feel connected, or was he alienated? Did he play a sport, or instrument giving him an outlet that he could feel proud about? Did his teachers/administrators approach him utilizing Social Emotional Learning Skills/Techniques? Were the people he interacted with daily sympathetic to his expressive needs, and/or the loss of his mom? Did anyone reach out to him? Was Cruz bullied at school by his peers or teachers? So, if he appeared different, did anyone approach him with a smile, or lend him a hand?
Okay, Teachers – We need you! Our elementary school teachers can include Social Skills in their lessons plans. Spend about 20 minutes daily teaching kindness and how to get along with others. Make every child feel special. Here’s an idea – Add music to your curricula, and have fun as you teach students how to care about their school friends treating them with kindness! You can also pull out this handy resource during story time.
No. I am not attempting to make Cruz the victim here. He is clearly the ‘bad guy’ in terms of the deeds he carried out, but I just want all of us to stop and ask ourselves how we could have reached-out to this young soul – this kid. I can’t help but believe in my heart-of-hearts that any one kid who we all know, love and hold dear to our hearts is just as capable of carrying out such a hideous crime if they feel unwanted, unloved and/or isolated. We are all humans, and humans can feel fragile.
School life can be tough – What can we do to help children make changes in their world and taking the responsibility of creating and making friends? Children are capable of problem solving. Gift your child, or a child in your life with this workbook on how to build positive relationships.
Is it really fair to the many people suffering from mental illness to categorize them as possible ‘murderers?” I mean, I suppose if we pick up a gun and shoot someone we have truly ‘lost it’ but think on this for a spell. We are quick to say ‘mental illness’ but to become mental in this way, is just a ‘snap’ away as we are all human and prone to destruction, and acts of violence if we are in such a state or dark and lowly place in our lives.
I think it’s high time for each and everyone one of us to remain connected to the children in our lives. We must consider their needs. We must STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to their stories, concerns, and fears. We have to become very observant, ask questions, and offer assistance as much as we can. Dig deeper in your questioning of children. Whenever you ask your children about their day, do not accepted, “Good” or “I’m okay” and/or the like. Ask your children details about their day, who they hung-out with, and what they’re up to.
If we expect to raise and dwell with wholesome well-balanced children, we must think on these important notes:
· The quality of a child’s attachment depends on the responses from those who rear the child (the adult)
· The bond of connection develops between the child and his/her caregiver (it should be positive)
· Once the child leaves our tutelage, the educator must grab the ‘torch’ and extend Social Emotional Learning – As parents we must expect this.
· We must make positive, meaningful connections with children
· Loneliness and separation anxieties are both variables we as adults, must pay attention to
· We have to foster empathy and sympathy within our children
· We must treat children with kindness and respect. We can still do this as we discipline with love.
· We must expect our children to use great manners, but how can they if we fail to teach them?
· We must teach our children to share.
· We must teach our children to volunteer their time and services to others.
· We must refrain from spoiling our children and giving them everything they ask for. By doing so, this will avoid their sense of entitlement.
· We must teach our children to say ‘thank you’ and to be grateful and thankful, too.
Parents – Feel free to add to this list.
Note: Please let me know what topics you’d love for me to cover.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!
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Resource to Help Children with Goals and Positive Uplifting
Resource to Help Parents Meet with School Officials