Compassion Could Diffuse School Violence

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by Richard Haddad, Publisher

On Monday morning at a high school near San Diego, another young man who reportedly was bullied and picked on, chose to strike out against his fellow classmates with a gun.

This is a terrible tragedy, not only for the families of the children who were killed and injured, but also for the boy who was feeling so desperate and lost that he felt violence was his only recourse.

Since Columbine, school officials throughout the country have sought to protect their students by attempting to identify potential gunmen. They look for boys who fit the profile students who are outcasts, withdrawn, victims of repeated incidents of bullying, children who do not have the social skills to fight back or stand up for themselves in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, many adolescents fit this profile and the very act of singling out these individuals perpetuates their feelings of not belonging and not fitting in.

The witch hunt must end. Instead of searching for problem children, we need to find ways to help children with their problems.

I don't have the answer, but perhaps these two thoughts could be part of the solution.

One: Our young people need to know they have a support system someone they can turn to for protection and comfort when they feel victimized. Ideally, this system should include parents, church leaders, a special teacher and even their peers.

Two: All of our children need to be taught to look out for one another. There must be a change in America's school environment that brings greater awareness of the pain that is inflicted when intolerance and cruelty are allowed to go unchecked.

Both of these ideas can be summed up in one simple word compassion.

Obviously all children are not going to be compassionate, but all it takes is one person to stand up and say, "Hey, leave him alone." This one voice can be a voice of comfort in the life of a troubled young person who thinks nobody cares.

Parents, gather your children around you tonight and ask them to be that one voice.

Ask them to not only avoid teasing others, but to take a stand against it.

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