Normally I have something to say about most current events – in case you missed it, I’m fairly opinionated.
But in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and the Clackamas Town Center shootings, I haven’t felt like saying a word. Terrible events like this make you want to turn off the news, climb into bed and stay there. But that’s not really an option. In this case, I’ve just been sitting back and listening to the people around me.
However, after seeing more than a few people blame the parents of the shooters, I felt like I wanted to say something about this situation, because I don’t agree with the whole, “Blame the parents” theory in full. Parents play a major role in how humans turn out for sure, but so do other factors, like school and community interactions. In fact, many factors can totally override parents and their behaviors, especially if those parents aren’t super great when it comes to raising kids.
Case in point: I’ve met many adults and older teens from violent or otherwise abusive homes and some of these humans seem just fine. They’re productive, nice and caring. Unfortunately I’ve also met adults and older teens who grew up in shady households who become violent themselves, deal with addiction or who are just plain floundering and unhappy. In the end, research says that being, or not being a “resilient youth” is what causes some kids to go one way while some go the other and it’s not all dependent on the parents.
Resiliency is actually based on the following factors…
- Protective factors in schools.
- Protective factors in families.
- Protective factors in communities.
This leads me to believe that instead of looking at gun laws, mental health access and other issues, we need to get back to basics and focus on connecting kids with that one adult who may change their world. Research on resilient youth says that kids who have at least one caring adult in their world are far less likely to turn into adults who harm others.
Also, and this is key, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they feel lost and hopeless and unable to do anything after the recent shootings, and in some ways this makes sense, because trying to change gun laws or the mental health care system is extremely difficult – and that’s what many want to do. However, I think you can create positive change if you start small. Though you may not have the ability to change major laws on your own, you do have the ability to change your community for the better by taking steps like joining a mentoring program, volunteering in your local school and more.
A client of mine wanted me to write about this issue, so I did. I don’t want to rewrite the entire issue here so, if you’re interested in reading more, take a look at How to Prevent Violence by Helping At-Risk Kids.