CT Shooting – The Conversation We Need to Have
Ever since the reports of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT started developing on Friday, there's been no shortage of political discussions. But I don't want to talk about gun control, I want to talk about a different topic.
I want to talk about mental health.
I'll first start with reiterating my warning from the other day by saying that everything we've heard about the alleged shooter, Adam Lanza, so far has been filtered through media reports, "sources", and "people with knowledge of the situation". Until we have concrete evidence, we need to be careful about what we take in and what we pass on.
But, reports so far have indicated that Adam Lanza may have either been emotionally disturbed, had a learning disability, or both.
I think that part of the problem is that we, as a society, have stigmatized learning disabilities and mental illness for too long. In school, kids are more likely to tease and make fun of "the weird kid" than to try to befriend the child who may be a little quiet, a little awkward, and a little different.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses for this tragedy or the unforgivable actions of this murderer.
But I am saying that we, as a society, need to be a little less judgmental of those who are "different" and a little more aware of when there may be deeper issues involved and make an effort to get help for those who truly need it without embarrassing or shaming them.
We also need to to teach our children early on that bullying, teasing, and ostracizing can not be tolerated. There will always be "the weird kid" in school, the earlier we can help that child feel less different and more accepted, the sooner we can hopefully avoid another tragedy.