Something’s Gotta Give
A lot has happened since Columbine. It seems like every other day you can turn on the news and hear the next story about how an armed gunman exacted vengeance upon his entire school. You can sit in front of the TV and watch the seeming decline of humanity unfold before your eyes. We watched Virginia Tech, we watched Sandy Hook, and we’ve watched Parkland take place. All of these recent, and all of them leaving significant impacts on our schools.
On top of the madness is the political positioning and the lobbying. It seems as if there is no agenda-toting entity who is too ashamed to make a statement.
We hear from the gun-control activists, the mental health advocates, the violent movie and video-game blamers, and just about everyone else. But people all over the country own firearms, have mental health issues, and watch violent movies. It’s hard after one of these tragedies to not place blame due to the immeasurable pain you may feel, and everyone claims to have an answer to the problem. The only issue is they are all different answers.
Everyone has their own personal ideas for solving the problem: ban guns, arm teachers, hire armed guards, buy security apps, install electronically-locking doors, and set up security cameras. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are looking for a solution to save lives, but we are beginning to think our product may only go so far. To solve the crisis of increased violence in schools, we can't rely on a product; instead, we'll have to partake in a change of thinking.
We don’t think any piece of technology is going to solve the problem. We’re not bashing our own product by any means. It can help in emergencies teachers face every day and isn’t used solely for stopping active shooters. We have a vision for schools across the country where we sell our product only to solve medical emergencies and assist in natural disasters. So what’s our answer to the school-shooting issue?
Save Everyone, One Child at a Time
Here at Badge Messenger, we believe the world is wanting in empathy. Empathy is a key component of humanity. Without it, we’re not sure mankind would still be traipsing around the earth. Ubiquitously throughout the earth, regardless of creed or color, it appears people have a remarkable desire to help others.
This is what makes people unique. We look out for our neighbors so much that this feature of our species is venerated in books, movies, and the evening news we discussed beforehand. So why doesn’t it happen in schools?
School bullying is at an all-time high. One-third of middle school and high school students were bullied in 2017, which is a rise from 2014 where only one-fourth were bullied. How is this number still on the rise? For years we have been subjected to this increase without any relief coming from the lobbyists and political pundits who promised us their changes would solve our problems.
We have given them our votes and support and address whether their solutions are working, and if the ones that have not been implemented ever have a likelihood at being realized. If you’re going to wait for someone to solve the problem for you, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time.
We’ve already mentioned a lot of people are prone to criticize the firearms, gaming, and movie industries. People claim these industries promote violence and attract kids to become psychopathic murderers, but very few have ever claimed these kids are solely attracted to these things because they have already become murderers.
School shooters aren’t randomly assigned, and they aren’t normal kids who have been coaxed into horrible acts by the “psychological manipulation” of violent media. Instead, we believe school shooters have an affinity for violence and violent objects because they are crying out for belonging, and for someone to have shown them the compassion all children should receive.
This does not excuse their actions by any means, but we wonder if we could have better incorporated them into our society. Almost every school shooter kept a diary or wrote a letter before committing their violent acts. They almost always mention being famous. They also mention their acts as a vehicle for vengeance. They want people to know they have been in pain and want people to listen and understand them.
You might read this article and say "You're humanizing the shooter, and that's wrong." But weren't they human? We ask these questions to better understand why these people do what they do, and if there is a way we can prevent it. In all of our research, we think we can prevent it by looking for the kids who are in psychological distress, and taking actions to incorporate them into their schools.
Watch the Method in Action
Recently, we came across one teacher’s explanation and solution to this problem that inspired us. You can find it in Reader’s Digest here. This teacher recognized violence was a reaction to loneliness and isolation.
Every Friday she asks the class to list people they would like to sit with next week and if there are any nominations for a student of the week. The trick is she never looks to the popular students; instead, she looks at the ones never mentioned for seating or have no one to nominate for student of the week.
These are the children, she says, that are at a higher risk for developing social issues in the future. If we can develop more methods to find the struggling children at home and in the classroom and pair them with caring, distinguished teachers and counselors, then we can save lives and prevent shootings before they take root in the minds of students.
The people reading this are not lawmakers, lobbyists, or members of a political action committee. Chances are, if you’re reading this then you are a school official, a teacher, or a concerned parent.
Parkland was an atrocity. What if we could prevent such atrocities and other school shootings by looking for the pattern of loneliness and isolation taking place amongst our children? No time period has ever seen the disconnectedness present within the modern era. Connectedness can solve some of our problems and save some lives in the process.
What Can You Do Now?
Go to your schools and classrooms with a connected mindset. Don’t look at school shooters as enigmas that can’t be explained or solved, and instead can only be countered by locked doors and armed guards. Those solutions can be helpful in preventing the loss of life, but they don’t attempt to stop potential violence from taking form in the minds of young students.
The students who participate in violent acts are in pain, and are taking revenge before ending their own lives. Their goal is almost always to be remembered, perhaps because they were not remembered while they were walking the hallways as a normal student.
It takes a massive level of empathy to understand their pain, and it doesn’t excuse their actions, but what if we could exercise empathy on the front end to hinder their spiral into chaos? No matter the cost, this approach would function and be of merit above all others.
Look into the classrooms and identify the students who are struggling. Make them feel a sense of belonging and find ways to lift them up so they don’t become the monsters we hear about on the news. A global change starts at the most personal level. Take responsibility for the things you can change and make them better. It may be the only thing you can do, but we assure you it will work.
How do we know? You can’t make student’s lives better by arming the teachers and locking every door. It turns a school from a place of belonging into a prison where the students who don’t belong only feel more trapped.
Give them an avenue to become integrated with their classmates and school programs and watch as a simple harmony takes over your classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds.
Don’t be tricked into believing you are small. Each person can have a profound impact on another, and prevent the people they know from falling into oblivion.