In recent days, my Facebook has become flooded with debates and downright, knock-down, drag-out verbal assaults, resulting in ended friendships, due to the ever present gun control issue that occurs every single time there is a gun related incident. And, of course, directly on its heels, comes the mental health issue. What if I told you that the problem is much more multifaceted and really has nothing to due with guns OR mental health, but the fact that we have essentially banned childhood. Believe me. I have heard all the arguments from both sides. But there is a key element missing. And that element has so many parts to it which, as a country, we have largely ignored. Allow me to present to you the arguments first.
My husband reminisces about the days when he was able to take his hunting rifle to school for show-and-tell and when practically every car in the school parking lot had a gun rack with a hunting rifle or a shotgun, and no one thought anything of it. School shootings weren't a common occurrence back then, but he isn't even that old. With each mass shooting, or the shooting of someone who holds celebrity status, gun legislation gets tighter. It was much easier to purchase a weapon twenty years ago than it is now. Yet, when you talk to people from other countries, you would think we were giving them away with the newest breakfast cereal.
Take a look at the timeline for gun control legislation and you can see that it has progressed steadily.
Now take a look at the progression of mass shootings.
It seems that they have kept pace with each other. Now, how is that possible? Gun control gets tighter, and yet mass shootings seem more frequent. So now we move on to the next big topic of this whole thing, mental healthcare.
It's no secret that our mental healthcare system is in shambles. Most live-in facilities have been closed down due to lack of government funding, which led to neglect and abuse of the patients. Regular healthcare will prescribe practically anyone an anti-anxiety, anti-depression, or anti-ADHD pill if they even have an inkling that the patient might have one of these issues. The problem with prescribing those drugs to people who really don't suffer from a chemical imbalance is that it often produces symptoms that include suicidal and homicidal ideations. That is why there is a laundry list of side effects with these medications. But why are kids the ones who seem to be the ones who carry out these shootings more often than anyone else? Certainly we can't be seeing an increase in mental illness on an exponential level that would require these kids to be on psychotropic medicines, can we?
Read this article, and you will see where I am going with this.
Want to hit another hot button topic about school violence? Bring up religion. I wish I was joking, but I'm not. I can't tell you how many memes I have seen having something to do with "thoughts and prayers" but that religion has been taken out of schools. The only real way religion has been taken out of schools is if your children don't care to practice whatever religion you are to begin with. No one is stopping your child from praying. But you have to remember that, regardless of the fact that our government was founded by Christians, there are other religions represented in the United States. We are the "melting pot". The US military recognizes a list of 221 religions. 221 religions! If the US military can accept that, then so can you. But understand that your Christian child might be standing next to a Jewish child or a Muslim child or a Buddhist child or a Native American child or a Wiccan child. If their religious practice isn't being honored in school adequately, why is Christianity so special? Those other children are probably silently praying to their deities. God hasn't been taken out of schools. He's just not getting special school assemblies. It's your job as a parent to make sure you instill your religious beliefs in your children if you feel so strongly about it. It's their choice whether or not to follow your footsteps. But it is not the responsibility of the teachers.
This is where my points come in, so bear with me, because there is a lot to digest here. A lot of things that I did as a kid are forbidden now.
1. Tag- This was a fun game, despite all the running. And if you were the slow kid, well, needless to say, you usually ended up either getting tagged all the time, or never being able to not be "it" anymore. But it was exercise. The problem is, some adults decided it was too dangerous, because kids were tagging each other too hard.
2. Dodgeball- Okay. So the only kids who really liked this game were the ones who had a good arm for nailing you with the ball. Sure, kids got hurt. It happens with any sport. But that's how kids learn to deal with being hurt. They may cry, but they have experienced pain in a supervised environment. Now they are prepared for the other ouchies in life. Trust me. I hated dodgeball. But I never got a broken bone from it.
3. Cartwheels- Me and every other girl did these during recess. I probably can't do one now, but they were fun. You don't really see this happen anymore, because recess monitors don't want kids to hurt themselves.
4. Duck, duck, goose!- We did this all the time in elementary school. It was good exercise. Now, it's considered too violent or that kids would feel left out if they weren't chosen to be the goose. Can we see the pattern of coddling starting here?
5. Cops and robbers- This was a normal game when I was a kid. Nowadays, you can't even point your finger the wrong way without someone interpreting it as a threat of violence, and kids have been suspended from school for just that, pointing their finger.
There are so many more, but I'm sure you can gt the gist. And that brings me to the title...Banning Hopscotch. It may sound unbelievable but children, yes children, have been charged in a court of law for defacing property, even if it's their own sidewalk in front of their house, with sidewalk chalk in order to play a game of hopscotch. Let me clarify here. Sidewalk chalk. Specifically designed to wash off in the rain or wear off just as quickly. Non-permanent. Why? Well, apparently, it's a gateway art supply to bigger, and more permanent graffiti issues. Huh. And here I thought me and my friends were just insanely hopping from one number to another, being sure to skip the one with a stone on it. Oh, and by the way, some people consider hopscotch too dangerous because a kid could lose their balance and fall.
Do you see how ridiculous this is getting?
Video Games and Other Violent Media
One of the other huge arguments I see is in regards to the violence shown in video games, in movies, and on television, or verbalized in songs. Let's take some time to analyze this, shall we? Below is a link to pieces of historical art.
Imagine if a child were to draw things like that in school and someone saw it. They would be suspended and sent for a psychological evaluation. Or how about a horror story? Stephen King is a prolific horror writer. His works are absolutely filled with violence in some form or another. To my knowledge, Stephen King has never gone on a mass shooting spree. I'm sure we would have heard about it by now. Imagine what would be done with him today if he was a kid in school. He would probably be administered a plethora of anti-psychotics and put on a watch list.
And this brings me to my biggest point. The one that hits the closest to home for me. Over the years, I have witnessed the tragedy of schools dismantling art and music programs. Creative writing is seen as a waste of time. Nothing art related will ever be worthwhile. Instead, it has been replaced with more science and more math. Not just any math. Common core math. I was never a great math student, but I got by. Math is integral to music and artistic perspective. Having art and music helped me with math and science. But this common core garbage is designed to be confusing. Most adults don't even understand it, but kids are expected to figure it out. So now kids are being sent home with even more homework than before, spending hours after school trying to finish it, not being able to do anything child-like. If they do get the time, they end up numbing their minds in front of some form of technology because both parents have to work full-time just to scrape by. These kids have no creative outlets left to them. They can't draw anything violent, because they'll be in trouble. They can't write anything violent, because they'll be in trouble. They can't play outside by themselves or their parents will be arrested for child endangerment and neglect. It's true. Google it and you will find a couple of cases. They aren't allowed to be kids.
People keep saying that we need to follow the example of other countries by banning or severely restricting guns. We're avoiding the real topic here. It's not a gun problem. It's not a mental health problem. It's not a violent media problem. It's a people problem. Everyone is so hung up on being politically correct unless it directly affects them, in which they'll offend everyone else in the process. What we're ignoring is that we are failing our children. Not because there are still guns in many households. Not because we didn't get them medicated (or over-medicated them) for being a little hyper. No. We have failed them by taking away their ability to express themselves. We have taken way their play time. We have taken away their thoughts. We have taken away their creativity. And we haven't replaced it with anything of value. Not even respect. And remember, respect goes both ways.
If you have children, take the time to let them be kids. Let them get their anger out in tag or scribbling madly with crayons. Teach them respect. If you don't have kids, take the time help bring back the things that kids need. Even if that just means writing a children's book or designing a coloring book or making a new kind of fun game. We need to start at the beginning. And that beginning starts with the kids.
#guncontrol #schoolshooting #violence #schoolviolence #massshooting