We live in a dangerous world, but surely the road to school and an education should be “safe.”
When a parent, grandparent, or guardian sends their loved one to school each day, it is assumed the child will return safely at the end of the day. It is also agreed that children should be able to learn in a tranquil setting, free from fear either real or imaginary.
This was the acknowledged reasoning on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. At the end of the day, in the quiet town of Newtown, Connecticut, 20 small children as well as 6 educators would not return safely. In fact, they would never return home at all.
With school just around the corner, I wondered why I chose to lift up this story to begin my column. Furthermore, it was the second mass murder in school which I have mentioned in my writing. I gave it considerable thought before I proceeded with the writing. I was spurred on by the reporting of Matthew Lysiak, who chronicled the events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He raises some thought-provoking questions which every parent, educator, or citizen should take time to consider.
First of all, it seems no geographic area of our nation is immune from what horrible things have happened in our school systems. Mass shootings have occurred in all types of settings. When the killings occur among the small children of an elementary school, it tugs at the hearts of all people.
What can be done to make all our schools safe and secure? We live in a dangerous world, but surely the road to school and an education should be “safe.”
The first question we have to ask is “why.” Why would Adam Lanza perpetrate such an unfathomable crime? Was there a motive, a reason? No one can go into a person’s mind to fully comprehend a person’s actions. Are there any factors or conditions which we could isolate to help prevent future attacks from taking place?
Adam Lanza suffered from mental illness. However, lots of people are plagued with some form of mental illness. Some seek help and some do not.
There is still a stigma attached to this type of illness. If we hope to identify these types of people who could harm others, we must open paths of healing to them. We all must be willing to reach out to these individuals.
Adam Lanza isolated himself from others. His parents’ divorce hurt his mental state. His mother left Adam for long stages of time. During those times, Adam played increasingly more violent games. He was in a world where violence, killing, and weaponry became the norm. Adam’s mom blamed the school for his isolation.
Eventually, she pulled him out of school. Ultimately, Adam Lanza had no one to lean on.
Gun control is often used as a solution to gun violence. Adam Lanza was breaking all the gun laws the heavily-restricted state of Connecticut had. It is hard to imagine having any more gun laws which would have stopped Lanza from performing this dastardly deed.
In the end, 26 innocent individuals paid for Adam Lanza’s illness with their lives. Adam’s mom, Nancy, also paid the ultimate price as she was murdered before Adam entered the school. There are many factors which led to this horrific tragedy.
The “what if” questions continue to reverberate. What if Nancy Lanza had not left Adam alone so much? What if Adam’s mentor, who was a teacher, had not moved away during his sophomore year? What if Adam Lanza had received some expert counseling? The list goes on and on.
What does this tragic story tell us? Is there any way we as educators, administrators, parents, school board members, and citizens can guarantee that type of tragedy will not happen again? It begs the question, “What can we do to see that every child is assured a safe and worry-free educational experience?” Is that not the least we can do as a community?
It may not be something we want to talk about, but it may be a necessary part of the conversation in today’s world.
Dwight Goering is a Moundridge resident.