Over the past few weeks the media has been bombarding us with news and rehashing of the tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Having two small daughters the tragedy struck me to the core. In order to not become overly sad and obsessed with the deaths of the innocent children at the hands of the whacked out gunman I’ve avoided watching the news as much as possible. Most of my knowledge and conversation about the events of that Friday morning have come through others who’ve watched every minute of coverage.
The best analysis and explanation of why this happened came from Dr. Michael Welner, Forensic Psychiatrist on ABC’s The View. He clearly sets out that mass media holds much of the blame for glorifying events like this because shock value sells newspapers, ads and airtime. Though I do not like guns I do agree that guns are NOT the main issue here. The issue is a matter of education – allowing our kids to watch violent movies and TV shows and play violent video games we are essentially paying to help numb the consciences of our kids thus we dehumanize people around us and encourage our kids to take pleasure in extreme violence.
So many times I’ve had the conversation with my girls no one is at fault for your reactions but you alone. No matter how angry they make each other or we make them if they lash out or do something stupid, they chose to do that of their own volition and must take responsibility for their own actions. I try very hard to instill in my children a sense of personal responsibility that no matter what anyone else does or says they must make decisions for themselves that are going to keep them and others around them safe. Dr. Welner also said that we need to teach our children to have empathy, not only within the family, but for others also. We don’t always understand what is going on in others lives and sometimes we just need to be patient and understanding. We need to teach them resilience – picking yourself up by the bootstraps, so to speak. Not just saying though, but showing them examples of others who’ve been down and out and turned things around. Don’t berate them if they can’t seem to overcome a hardship, but reason with them trying to help them understand why things happen and how it can change.
Dr. Welner said so much that I can’t paraphrase it all here, but I invite you to view the clip I found on YouTube of his interview with the ladies of The View on 12/17/2012.
To all the families of Sandy Hook Elementary – my prayers go out to you. Though I cannot know the depth of your grief please know that there is hope for you and those you’ve lost.