My husband and I were both new teachers when the Columbine shooting happened. At the time, the possibility of students entering a school with the intent to cause death had never occurred to me. Processing the information was difficult. It was almost like someone was trying to convince me that the sky was purple. Schools are safe! Kids don’t kill each other in mass shootings. But we all know that the oblivion we once lived in has been shattered. The statistics are depressing and school shootings are on the rise. Six pieces of my heart walk into school buildings every day. I don’t want to live in fear that the words I spoke as they walked out the door will be the final words I’ll have the chance to offer.
I’ve seen several opinions on social media since the Florida tragedy. “Schools need metal detectors,” “We need tougher gun laws,” “We need to get rid of all guns,” “For the love of all that is holy…we should homeschool!” But I don’t think these solutions are looking the problem in the eye.
We adopted our daughter from China at the age of two. She was underweight, covered in bruises, and incredibly distrustful. She was angry because that is what she knew. She hit, scraped, and screamed! The loving action of adopting her furthered her trauma. We took a tiny human away from everything familiar and overwhelmed her with all the new things. I’ve read so many articles on childhood trauma since we adopted her. This has caused me to be a very intentional mom to her. I parent her differently than I parent my other kids. In the last five years, we have worked, prayed, and loved this child to where she is today. I watched a Ted Talk recently where a doctor spoke of the way childhood trauma rewires kids’ brains and actually changes their DNA. It is not out of the realm of possibility to think that the altered DNA could then be passed on to their offspring. As children are assessed, they are given a score based on adverse childhood experiences (ACE). The higher the ACE score, the higher the probability of disease, social, and emotional disorders.
Our kids are hurting people because they are hurt. This is a systemic problem and I don’t think it has anything to do with guns. Mental illness is at an all time high in our country and I would LOVE to know why. Social media can be blamed for part of it, but not all. I think our parenting plays a huge role. I know children that have experienced neglect and abuse. They are BROKEN! They are desperate for love, but when they get it, they aren’t sure what to do with it. The answer for us has been love, Jesus, and constant intentional parenting. Since our daughter was severely underweight at the time of adoption, we assumed that she did not have access to food every time her body experienced hunger. One of the very small ways we have been intentional here is to make sure that we NEVER tell her no when it comes to food. The older siblings know they are not allowed to snack before dinner. But we never deny our daughter food when she asks. If we have already tucked her in bed for the night and we are literally walking out of her room and she asks for a granola bar, we get a granola bar. We are trying to make sure she never has to revert back to the subconscious panic that she will go hungry. The problem is, we have so many adults parenting that aren’t ready to be parents, don’t have emotional support, are locked into addictions, or are stuck in the cycle of poverty. So my question is this: How do we help? What do we do? Could lowering ACE scores somehow solve the epidemic of mass shootings? Schools cannot continue to be graveyards for our babies. We need solutions.