It’s early here in Nevada, and I woke up later than usual, because for some reason I had trouble sleeping. After eating what I swear feels like a million and one Girl Scout cookies, I finally fell asleep. Of course, it was probably more like four or maybe six, possibly ten, but clearly not a million. Does it really matter how many cookies I ate last night? The point is, I had trouble sleeping and spent the night rummaging through the pantry until I found the hidden box of cookies, and then spent a good part of my night wide awake.
So anyway, it’s early here and I happened to notice a text come across my phone that’s all about how our president, has blamed the students for not notifying the police. Referring to the recent school shooting, the person texting me, expressed disgust with the president, and felt that the term terrorist was a more appropriate term rather than shooter, when referring to the perpetrator of the latest tragedy that recently occurred in Florida, leaving several victims to die in a senseless tragedy.
For what it’s worth, using the term ‘terrorist’ is something that should not be taken lightly and there are certain traits that an act of terrorism have for it to be classified as a terrorist act. For so many reasons, none that might seem important, words are important and the definition of these words, might lead to subjective interpretation but none the less, definitions do come into play when it comes to criminal acts. Additionally, when insurance matters are resolved, whether or not a catastrophe is an act of war or terrorism can be all the difference when it comes to defending and/or paying claims.
Sadly, while many are mourning the loss of loved ones, people tend to talk about things that might seem to make them heartless. I have not heard the president’s comments about the shooting, but I have little doubt that if he did say that children who knew about threats should have notified the police, was meant in a manner that these threats that occur should be taken seriously. Of course, the problem can be, that there are so many idle threats and determining what threats are real, is always easier after the fact.
Thinking back to when I was a substitute teacher in Toms River, New Jersey, I recall when there was a student that I would have considered a threat to him and other students. I came to know him when I was asked to cover a Phys Ed., class. He was not changed for gym, and was told to walk the track. Different than in my day, when students who did not change, got a zero for being unprepared and were allowed to sit on the sidelines, nowadays, at least in this particular intermediate school, students are told to walk the track.
So this one young man, who seemed to me to be somewhat of a loner, was walking the track and I decided to walk with him. I brought something up about something or other, and began to make conversation. He responded to me that he was very angry and that he began to tell me why. At first I thought he was kidding, and I attempted to make light of the matter, until I realized he was serious. I continued to walk with him, but my sensors of fear were detecting that this child was very angry, and I remember thinking to myself, that I was frightened for the students, and student body.
That particularly class was the last one of the day, and afterwards, I reached out to the person in charge, and told him about the conversation I had with the student. I remember his reaction was sort of matter of fact, and he thanked me for sharing, but it was as though he knew exactly which student I was speaking about before I ever mentioned his name. So I ask you, in this situation, what’s a person to do? Did I do enough? Should I have notified the police? Or did my letting the school’s principle serve as enough?
Getting back to words . . . sometimes there are no words that can be said to make things right in the wake of a tragedy. Sometimes people say things and mean other things and sometimes no matter what a person says, people will find a way to dissect it and make it out as though that person is so very heartless.
There are no words to make this go away. Looking for red flags that might have been flying in the wake of a tragedy is not necessarily victim blaming, or blaming anyone for that matter, it could just be trying to find a way to mitigate and prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. It would be wonderful if we could all see through the various partisan views and come to realize that when we all work together, we might have a chance at coming up with effective risk management plans. When we point fingers and blame others, we often fail.