This is neglect. We are failing our children.
Another school shooting. We take it so casually now. 22 in the U.S. just this year, as of July 26. But the picture above, though it IS from a school shooting, it comes from Brazil. It’s really not just a U.S. problem, see? But neglect seems to be the root, regardless of the nation.
I don’t know how many times I’ve stood in juvenile court and heard someone say some form of the following to a set of parents:
“You were both home and the child was injured. No one else was there. The injury was either neglect or direct abuse. It is your responsibility.”
This usually is accompanied by cries of outrage that either parent would be blamed, along with a continuing argument between the parents as to who should rightly bear the guilt.
Some months ago I told a Christmas story about the Washingtons, an American family. This family consisted of two parents, Reagan and Roosevelt (Rosy for short) Washington, two kids, Liberty and Unity, and a dog and maybe a cat. Let’s go ahead and put a goldfish and a guppy in a tank on the bar between the kitchen and dining room. Well the whole school shooting thing reminds me of a series of arguments Reagan and Rosy had, not too long ago.
Scene the First
Rosy: (unpacking the groceries as the family comes home for the evening) Did you hear about the school shooting today, Rage?
Reagan: (Rage for short – hard “g”) Another one? Where? Not our school was it?
Rosy: oh no. In another state. You know this wouldn’t be happening if the Republicans would let some gun control happen.
Reagan: 2nd Amendment dear. Don’t start with me. Where’s the frozen pizza? I’ll turn on the oven. . .
Scene the Second (next day)
Reagan: You know that school shooting? I heard the gunman was crazy and got his gun illegally, so your gun restrictions wouldn’t have helped anyway.
Rosy: I heard it happened with a GUN, though, hun, so gun control might have made a difference.
Reagan: (more tensely now)What part of the 2nd Amendment do you not understand?
Rosy: Oh I understand it all. As a matter of fact when I read it I read the “well regulated militia” part as well as your favorite phrase.
Reagan: That doesn’t mean what you think it does. And besides, mental illness treatment is what we need. Not more gun laws. More gun laws would just take guns away from the good and the criminals would be happy that their targets would be unarmed.
Rosy: What do you propose for mental health treatment?
Reagan: Oh hey the burgers need to to flipped.
Scene the Third (weeks later)
Reagan: Hey Rose, come quick! Look at this on the news! Another shooting!
Rosy: Again? Where now?
Reagan: Two states over, thank God. You know if I would have been there, I would have taken the guy out.
Rosy: With your 45 pistol? The shooter was wearing an bullet proof vest and had an automatic rifle. Law enforcement wouldn’t have let you in, and have you ever shot when someone was shooting at you? Gimme a break, big boy.
Reagan: You know what I mean. We need more good guys to be armed and trained to avoid this.
Rosy: You know just after last time we talked, I read Publius’ #29.
Reagan: Speak english.
Rosy: Publius was Hamilton’s pen name in the Federalist Papers, but nevermind, Dancing With the Stars is coming on.
Scene the Fourth
Liberty: (entering through garage to home from school bus, obviously rattled, teary eyed) Hi mom. Hi dad.
Rosy: Hey! What’s wrong? You look upset.
Raegan: Was it a boy? Give me his name.
Liberty: It was a boy. Stephen had a gun at school today.
Raegan: WHAT? WHAT HAPPENED? WHY DIDN’T WE GET A CALL?
Rosy: Calm down, Rage.
Raegan: WHAT DO YOU MEAN CALM DOWN? THIS IS HAPPENING AT OUR OWN SCHOOL?!
Rosy: (raising her voice to match his) THEY PROBABLY DIDN’T CALL SO YOU WOULDN’T GO DOWN THERE AND TRY TO SHOOT A JR. HIGH KID.
Liberty: It wasn’t real. But they didn’t know that at first. We were all on lockdown.
Raegan: Mental Health…
Rosy: Don’t start.
Raegan: Well it wasn’t a real gun, so gun control wouldn’t help. . .
Rosy: Nobody got hurt though.
Liberty: We were just as scared, bc we thought it was real.
Raegan: You know what would help? some sort of training curriculum. . .
Rosy: Lots of studies have shown that a curriculum won’t help.
Unity: (coming downstairs from listening to Radiohead in her room) So gun control is illegal . . .
Rosy: Well if you read the Federalist 29 you get an understanding of “regulated militia”
Unity: Mental health efforts are pointless, training is a waste of time . . . so what do we do? Liberty is shaken up!
Raegan: Well Liberty you said no one got hurt, right?
Liberty: right, dad.
Rosy: It was a toy gun?
Liberty: (wiping away tears and regaining composure) yes. just a toy.
Rosy: Does Survivor come on tonight?
Reagan: I think so. Do we have a food delivery coupon?
(With this, the parents settle into the sofa and the girls go upstairs)
Unity: I’ve heard them talk about this so many times, I never thought it would et even this real.
Liberty: Me too. Although no one was shot, we all thought it was really happening. Everybody was crying.
Unity: Maybe if mom and dad would finish their talk sometime, they could figure out a solution. But they always end up disagreeing and then moving to something else and avoiding the whole problem.
Liberty: What can we do? We need them to work on it until they fix it.
Unity: They are more interested in their own positions than they are in solving the problem though.
Liberty: I’m scared to go back. What if it’s real next time?
Well, that’s all I can remember of the Washingtons’ conversations, but I can tell you that if a child in a DHS court was injured, and all the parents did was argue about it on one hand and avoid the issue on the other, DHS would take custody of that child. DHS would also get mental evaluations for the neglectful, self centered parents, counseling for any issues of the parent’s rights and how they balance against the children’s safety, and the Judge would likely remove anything from the home that even might be connected to the problem. (Guns, alcohol, drugs, porn, etc)
I don’t know what the solution to our Nation’s problem is. But I do know that it is not ours alone, and part of the problem is that leadership doesn’t want to work on it enough, or compromise enough, to solve the problem.
So the innocents continue to perish.