A terrible tragedy happened last Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. An 18-year old student at Timberview High School opened fire and shot four people, critically wounding one of them, a boy who’d been beating him up. That boy is now in the hospital in a medically induced coma. Once again, violence and bullying has struck; it has torn apart and traumatized an entire community. The student who committed the shooting ran off but later turned himself into the police. He was held on $75,000 bail and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempt to commit murder. His parents were able to pay the $75,000 bail and he is now at home awaiting trial. This boy was being bullied at school because he was rich and could afford nice things. Since he was living in a poor community, he automatically became a target. Kids beat him up and picked on him and he lived in terror every day. He had no one to defend him and the school refused to do anything about the bullying. Last week, he finally exploded when a boy started beating him up and he decided he couldn’t take it anymore. A teacher tried to break up the fight, but the boy wrestled with his backpack, pulled out a gun, and shot the student who was beating him up, ultimately hospitalizing him.
This points to the need to do something about bullying. We cannot stick our heads in the sand the way that school did; we have to take the offensive. I would recommend having parents come into school on a daily basis to patrol the hallways and see what’s going on. If they see something bad happening, they can intervene. We also need classes about kindness and compassion. We have to teach our children how to deal with people who are different from they are and we need to tell them that when they see someone getting bullied, they should take action: sit down with them at lunch, talk to them, offer to help, show sympathy and let them know you’re on their side. We also need to tell them to report the bullying and present it to the school authorities so they can do something about it. We need to broadcast the message of love and compassion on a daily basis and teachers should be asking things like, “What act of kindness have you done today?” Kids need to know that kindness and compassion are expected of them just as much as getting good grades are. We have to do these things because these crimes don’t just affect the victims, they traumatize entire communities. I saw some of the chat thread of the moms who were posting online after that school shooting and some of them said they were getting ready to leave the country because they did not want to stay in a place where their life is in danger every minute. Mass shootings break the minds, hearts, and souls of America. We have to solve this problem before we can hope to do anything else. We have to tell our children that violence is not the answer and that if they have a weapon and feel like using it, they should go to a counselor or teacher and tell them what’s going on so they can work out answers. If we did things like that, we could turn things around and convince people that they don’t need a gun or knife to protect themselves. The shooting in Arlington was the twenty-second school shooting this year. If this climate of fear continues, God only knows what will happen. We have to learn how to solve our problems with emotional intelligence - compassion, empathy, and tolerance. How long are people going to live with this kind of fear, knowing that when their child goes off to school it might be their last day? We can’t continue living like this.