Does this idea pose an inconceivable reality? America hates its children.
Could it be that this ’exceptional’ country has so little genuine interest in the welfare of its children that it ignores their slaughter in schools by armed madmen – often only a little older than they are – and year after year does nothing but talk empty talk and pray empty prayers about changes in laws already purchased by those who own the lawmakers.
And nothing of this is unknown or new. And no single area is immune. And despite the prayers and the burials and the pleas for more money for mental health, a better system to identify the really troubled young people and a ban on assault rifles which are the weapons of choice for mass murder, nothing is done.
Does this go on anywhere else in the World with anything like the frequency of these incidents in America? No.
Could it be that a country which owes one-third of its entire Gross Domestic product to the care, education and feeding of children would so wantonly ignore the reality that all systems effecting children- healthcare, education, welfare, even juvenile justice – have become substandard compared to other countries in the World.
It is no accident that schools and school children remain the most convenient target for those wishing to destroy an image of themselves formed by their upbringing and school experience. Once we attend school we begin to compare ourselves to others outside our family and regard ourselves through their eyes. Twelve years of schooling is a long time to live with negative self – images. If those are reinforced at home, trouble builds upon trouble and eventually there are those few who must act out with atrocious results.
Too often little is done in a family to understand what children experience in school. The new world of social media and the platforms on which they operate can give us a view if we choose to take the time to look. But for many American parents who make a tremendous effort to move into areas where there are “good schools” that effort alone demands continued focus…as the focus on children becomes more limited.
Parents feel strange ‘spying’ on their children’s Facebook content. As if ‘looking’ has become ‘spying”. Today we hear parents asking “Did you do your homework?” Once all we heard was “Let me see your homework and what you are doing.”
And then there are the schools themselves.
We have written about the failure of public education again and again. It continues.
Where our public school system was the foundation of our rise to World power in the 20th Century, we now find ourselves among the lowest third performing system of all industrialized nations. Public education is a mess. It is clearly a failure and little is being done to change outcomes…although billions of tax dollars continue to support the same mistakes, the same low performance, the same lack of teacher preparation.
Our children can’t read, write or make change but that’s OK because they can text, tweet, use calculators and live in their IPhones where readin, writin and ’rhythmatic are not mandatory.
But there is a price to pay and it is being paid now. There is no denying that the pressures in lives are increased if college students feel inadequate to the task of college…even if they have been accepted to a school of their choice. Two-thirds of all college students need mental health assistance. Few if any colleges are up to the task. The drop-out rate in four year colleges is at an all-time high.
More than half of all those attending two year community colleges drop-out before completing the work.
The political establishment responsible for education is at a loss. They do not know what to do so keep pumping money into failure. Charter schools, free Pre-K, high school graduation rates after six years. Tricks with sadder and sadder results.
WHAT TO DO
So we are faced with the fact that even as public schools fail our children educationally, they have become potential slaughter-houses for tormented souls owning an assault weapon: a weapon of war.
In the days ahead the children of Parkland, Florida will mourn, march, rally and join other children who will walk out of school sometime in April to protest the incontrovertible fact that nothing will be done by Congress or any other government to help keep them safe.
Words will be spoken in support…lots of words and TV appearances, but no votes will be marked.
And sooner than later comes the inevitable reality that media is no longer interested. We listen to children…sure…but do we act?
So here is what these children…our children (we used to think of all children as our children but that is no longer anything but an expression we use) must do to help themselves.
It is nonsense to think that the FBI can monitor and act on 100,000 social media impressions each day. The FBI exists to solve crimes not prevent them.
It is nonsense to think that any local police authorities have the staff and money to monitor thousands of social media impressions every day.
But the fact is that students in each high school in America could recruit volunteers to monitor local Facebook and YouTube entries daily and know which of their fellow students or former students are ‘acting out’. Young people live in their phones and know so much about each other whether they care to know or not. Now is the time to care to know.
Students are fabulous at organizing things. Teams of them can take turns…and all of them can be involved…with a telephone number and email address to help mark and note signs of potential danger.
Again and again we learn that students, families and even the authorities have known all about these sad, terrifying children who have lost hope in life. They know of them but nothing is done to closely monitor them; to learn if they own an assault rifle and to act on the situation.
Privacy issues? This is a matter of life and death. We no longer live in an age of privacy. Turn on your computer and you are immediately being ’watched’ usually by a store which wants your business.
To know all about a growing danger and to look the other way is like looking in the face of mass murder, turning away and being shot in the back.
The children of America must learn what immigrant societies and poor people have always known: if you don’t look out for yourselves, our society will let you down. Our national government is purchased. Our local governments are too busy protecting themselves.
Children cannot fix the quality of our schools.
But they can actually do something important to protect their own safety – their very lives.
It is difficult to seriously believe that America hates its children. But seeing is believing.