As the school year approaches, a lot of conversation has focused on school security – buzz-in systems, school resource officers, no portable classrooms – all things that are a step in the right direction, but other silly ideas such as arming certain teachers are still being thrown around.
We should keep in mind that one of the most effective things we can do to curb the chance of violence in our schools is to listen to students. Really listen with open minds and hearts to the needs and struggles of those people who have to enter those buildings every day – buildings that no matter the good intentions of teachers and administrators can often feel like a prison to some students. Most importantly we must listen to those who may be seen as a potential threat.
While there are of course cases of troubled people who are simply going to do evil acts in their lives, most acts of violence are a result of very real issues that if addressed could save a child from taking the irreversible steps of violence.
Violence that we must remember can be enacted on oneself just as easily as someone else.
Issues such as bullying are often looked at as reasons why some kids to act out violently, which is a real issue, but sometimes it’s as simple as the stresses of being a kid that can put someone in a dark, seemingly hopeless place.
As adults, it’s often easy to get caught up in our own world – bills, taxes, who cut you off, when you take your next vacation – but don’t forget about the equally stressful lives of your children, especially those in their teenage years.
Those years aren’t easy for anyone, caught in between the magic of childhood and the uncertainty of young adulthood, a place where you lose and make friends based on trends that change with seasons and nine weeks.
In an environment where talk of gun control is a non-starter, and where politically terms like “snowflake” are used to discount the emotions of others, the least we can do for our kids is to grow up and listen to their troubles in order to help them grow up with the compassion for the struggles we all face, and the tools to address those stressors in meaningful and peaceful ways.
As someone who hated nearly every day of school, someone who on more than one occasion was labeled “troubled,” a “distraction” or “hopeless,” it’s important for me to remind myself and others that no one has it easy. No one deserves to be looked at as if his or her problems don’t matter – even if you know that those problems will mean nothing in 20 years – because all that we have is now – this moment that left you as soon as it arrived.
And if every moment is a precious gift as is so often said in the wake of tragedies, then let’s take every moment to remember the struggles of the young as important enough to support not after the fact but in the fleeting moments of today.
Matt Masters is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.