Where does Kid on Kid Violence End?

I know this post is going to stir up a lot of emotions and we might not all agree on what I have to say but that’s okay. As you might know, I worked as a reporter for 10 years. I had to write stories about the Ryle student who killed his family and then held his class hostage and the shooting at Columbine School. I remember everyone talking about both of these incidents for weeks after. The Ryle student shocked the community and the Columbine incident shocked the nation. Many other incidents have happened since.

Now three children have died, and two were injured, at Chardon High School near Cleveland, Ohio, only a few hours from my home town and I don’t hear anyone but the media talking about it. Are we so immune to this type of stuff now that we don’t even discuss? Or are we so mortified that this could happen that we try to not to think about it?

The media keeps bringing up whether or not the kid was bullied. Did bullying drive T.J. Lane to do this? And if he was bullied, does it really justify opening fire on other children? Lane did not even attend Chardon, instead attending nearby Lake Academy, which is for students with academic or behavioral problems. So was he choosing to be around people who were allegedly bullying him? People he could have avoided. And how did someone who is not a student enter this school with a gun and knife on him? That truly concerns me. I would hope someone who is not a student would not be able to enter my child’s school.

My daughter was hit several times by a boy in the fourth grade. I do not believe the schools did everything they could and I was outraged by this boy hitting my child. However, my daughter never thought once to turn to violence. I was so frustrated at one point that I gave her permission to just clock him (she’s frisky for as little as she is) but she refused. My son gets teased from time to time because he is much more of an intellectual than an athlete. However, I have given him the skills and words to deal with this. For example, if a child picks on him for not throwing the ball as far as someone else, he might just say “well I’m glad you can throw the ball far, but I’m not sure how much that will help you when I’m your boss in 15 years.”

I realize bullying can get intense and cause children to want to commit suicide or hurt the one doing the bullying. Parents definitely need to teach their child not to bully. However, we as parents are responsible to teach our children how to deal with this. And it is our responsibility to make the schools accountable. So many schools want to ignore the issue but they must deal with it or it can elevate to school violence or suicide.

I sometimes wonder if the schools don’t do everything they should because bullying has become such a common word and is used to describe any type of confrontation between kids. In this article, http://communitypress.cincinnati.com/article/C2/20120301/NEWS/303010041/CNE-student-sent-ER-after-bullying-incident?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7C%7Cs, Rhandi Morrison’s mother claims Rhandi was bullied. She was injured in a fight and had to go to the ER. However, Rhandi called the other girl a name and then was hit. Is that really bullying or is that just a high school girl fight? I really want to know what you think. I have taught my children not to talk about other people (even when their friends are) and to not name call. I have also explained that if they do, they better be willing to deal with how the other child takes it. I hope my kids listen for their sake.

I have taught my kids to always stand up for themselves with their words and for their friends. My son often comes home and tells me about a boy in his class who is teasing other kids. He knows that I will immediately ask if he stood up for them. I encourage him to tell the boy that it isn’t nice or ask him why he is bullying the other child.

I have often found that some children, especially girls, don’t even realize they are bullying until they are called out on it. I don’t think most kids go to school and think “I should bully Suzy today.” So teach your kids to call them out on it! If they are made aware at a young age, maybe they will quit doing it before things get ugly. It also seems that the schools have bullying seminars but they only discuss how to deal with bullying. Parents and schools need to talk to kids about not being a bully.

Family Friendly Cincinnati (http://familyfriendlycincinnati.com/2010/05/06/is-your-child-being-bullied/) and WLWT (http://www.wlwt.com/backtoschool/19770037/detail.html) have posted great stories on bullying.

Many, including Lane’s family, are saying the incident at Chardon High School had nothing to do with bullying. So did Lane just choose to kill that day for no reason? CNN reported that Lane’s household was one filled with violence and that both of his parents had been arrested for domestic violence. His father had also been charged with assaulting a police officer and served time in prison after trying to suffocate a woman by holding water flowing from a hose over her mouth and nose so she could not breathe. Filing for divorce from the teen’s mother in 2002, his father was charged with attempted murder, felonious assault and kidnapping. Lane has been charged with assault before. So instead of people saying he killed because he was bullied, should they be saying he killed because he was taught violence was okay?

It looks as if 17-year-old Lane is going to be charged as an adult. I completely agree with this decision. He is an avid hunter, which makes me assume that he knows a little about gun safety, which includes not taking a gun to a school. He got a gun, then walked or drove to a school he does not attend, walked in and shot a group of boys. One boy was trying to get away and he gunned him down. This was premeditated murder. Thank goodness for the gym teacher who chased Lane out of the school. Otherwise, more could have been killed or injured.

The front of Chardon High School

And at what point will the parents be held liable? They taught this teen that violence was okay. Mothers, we teach our daughters how to treat men and how they should be treated. Fathers, you treat your daughters how they should be treated and how your sons should treat women. We also teach our sons how they should be treated. If you beat your spouse or children, you are teaching your child that is okay. If you verbally abuse your spouse or children, you are teaching your child that is okay. This also applies to parents who are divorced. If you constantly talk down to the mother or father of your child, whether you are married or not, you are teaching your kid it is okay to be talked to that way. I don’t know if Lane’s parents should face prison time for what their almost adult son did but parents need to take ownership of their role in these kinds of situations.

This also has me thinking of gun safety again (see previous blog: http://wp.me/p1VdOI-2Y). Some say guns don’t kill, people do. I say people can’t shoot someone dead without a gun. I’m not saying no one should ever be allowed to have a gun. I just think we need stricter guidelines.

So why don’t I see anyone talking about this tragedy on Facebook, hear my co-workers talk about it at lunch or my friends asking me if I heard? Why aren’t we talking about how the rest of the kids who were there that day, the other two shot and those who witnessed it, are going to deal with this for the rest of their lives? It truly seems like everyone, but the media, is acting like it didn’t happen. This is a terrible thing that impacts everyone no matter how close you live to Cleveland, Ohio. It shows us that this can happen in any school. Someone who doesn’t even attend the school can just walk in and gun people down. What are we going to do about it to ensure nothing like this happens again?

Please share your thoughts. It is okay if we all have different opinions, just be respectful.

A 22 Gauge for a 10-year-old??

My ex-husband and I communicate pretty well. We try to keep each other informed of all extracurricular activities, grades, anything unusual going on, disruptions in the schedule, etc. We always talk before Christmas and birthdays to see what gifts the other is buying and to ensure the kids don’t get a bunch of duplicates.

J’s birthday is only one week before Christmas so we really have to be careful with duplicates for him. It also makes it hard to come up with “enough” presents at times. “A gaming chair” is what Troy told me he was getting J for his tenth birthday. But when I asked about Christmas, he kept saying he didn’t know yet. I finished my shopping and gave him the entire list so he knew what not to buy.  I also gave him the perfect idea for our 12-year-old daughter.

The kids and I wake up Christmas morning at 5:45 a.m. They excitedly open each and every gift. A is mostly enthused about her makeup bag and Twilight movies.  J was thrilled to get a bike and movie posters for his room. After a nap and a few hours of checking out their new stuff, Troy picked them up. They were excited to see that side of the family. I picked them up at 3:30 to head to my mom’s. Their smiling faces greeted me at the door. “I got a foot spa,” A said with lots of energy. I knew she’d love it. J didn’t say much. We got in the car and I asked J what he got. “A flashlight and a 22.” I couldn’t have heard him right so I asked again. “I said I got a flashlight and a 22 mom.” I then asked what a 22 is. I knew but I thought there must be something else called a 22. He’s only 10 and this was not discussed with his mother at all. No way would anyone, even his dad, buy him a 22… so I thought. “It’s a rifle mom.” I then asked if it was a real rifle. It was.

I don’t think I even blinked for five minutes. We just sat there in the car. I was in shock. I debated going back inside to ask him what he was thinking but his parents and extended family were there and I didn’t want to cause a seen.

Troy bought J a BB gun at age 7 and a bow and arrow at 8 and I thought he was too young for those but I gradually adjusted. They only use the BB gun and bow and arrow for target shooting at Troy’s grandpa’s house out in the country. And to be honest, I had a BB gun around 7- or 8-years-old. Other than that though, I was never raised around weapons of any kind. Guns scare me. You can say guns don’t kill, people do but hey, accidents happen. People wouldn’t die of gunshot wounds if the other person didn’t have a gun.

 J doesn’t want to hunt so I really don’t get the point of this at all. He told me that he is excited about the gift though and can’t wait to go target shooting.

I’m still upset and conflicted over the whole thing. Do I confront his dad? Do I forbid J from keeping the gun and shooting with anything more than a BB gun? Or do I let it go and trust that his dad will keep him safe?