When a Nevada middle school student opened fire, killing a teacher and seriously injuring two other students on Monday, I had to wipe away tears as I tried to concentrate at work.
As a Sparks Middle School graduate, a substitute teacher, and a parent, it is difficult to grasp what happened on the campus I used to walk over 20 years ago.
Like other Northern Nevada residents and parents, I want to know “why.” I want to point fingers and blame someone. I want answers so we can figure out how to prevent this from happening again.
Are mean-spirited kids who bully at fault? Should less-than attentive parents be held responsible? Are violent video games to blame?
Unfortunately, no one will ever know what drove a confused child to bring a gun to school, shoot and injure two students, and take his own and the life of a well-loved teacher.
Like other random acts of gun violence plaguing the U.S., Monday’s shooting has left people wondering how we can stop these senseless tragedies from occurring.
I can remember hanging out on the Sparks Middle School campus in the late ’80s. I was young, confused and angry. I felt like an outcast and didn’t like school.
I resented the “popular kids,” but I also wished I was part of their group at the same time. There was one girl, Rose, who, despite her popularity, was kind to everyone.
Even though it was many years ago, I can still remember overhearing Rose’s mother tell her to stand up to her friends who were making fun of another student. And despite the possible social repercussions, Rose told them to stop, and then she offered a kind word to the bullied student.
That image has stayed with me all of these years. Like Rose’s mother, I have tried to instill the traits of kindness and compassion in my children.
I also tried to prepare them for the reality of middle and high school. Even though I expect them to be kind to others, I know it is brutal out there. I warned them in advance that they could be targeted, caught up in social drama, or ostracized by their peers. I told them that it is just an unfortunate part of growing up, but that it would pass.
Yesterday’s events cannot be changed. Students are still left without a caring teacher. Two families are mourning the deaths of their loved ones. And the small-town atmosphere of Sparks, Nevada has forever been changed.
However, as parents, if we teach our children to be kind and prepare them for the worst, we may be able to play a small role in curbing the violence erupting across the nation.