Columbine, Finland, and Virginia Tech
Three shootings that could have been thwarted
By acting on the signals that kids are sending out
Future tragedies can be avoided
Most kids will not tell their parents or teachers if they are being bullied. There are a number of reasons that children will be reticent to tell. For them, the most important reason is that they are scared. They are concerned that if the bully finds out that they told, the bully will exact revenge on them. This is a legitimate concern. Kids may also be ashamed or embarrassed about the abuse. If the child has a father figure with a tough demeanor and expects the same of his kids, this child will feel that he does not live up to his father’s expectations if he complains about being bullied. Dad may expect his son to handle the problem on his own. Other kids may not tell their parents because they know that their parents don’t care about them or what happens in school.
Even if children don’t tell their parents if they are being bullied, they will still send out signs of victimization. In addition to noticing the signs, we must act on them. Many kids will send out these signs as a way of asking for help. If kids are asking for our help, it is our obligation to help them. Time is of the essence. Procrastinating can lead to horrific results. We must act and we must act now.
When we notice changes in our children or our students that may indicate they are being bullied, we should intervene immediately to find out what is going on. This immediate intervention is the key to helping them. Assuming that it is a phase they are going through and deciding to wait awhile is not an option that we have. Unfortunately, many school shootings and even some suicides could have been prevented by acting on the signs that kids were sending out.
What happens when a tragedy like a school shooting or a suicide takes place as a result of bullying? After the fact, the adults get together and usually say, “We should have done something about this sooner.” After the fact is too late. Often, the adults involved in these tragedies admit that they noticed changes in the kids involved with the tragedy. These adults forgot the most important step. Intervening and offering help. Immediate intervention could have prevented a number of these tragedies.
Don’t let something like this happen to you or your children. And, don’t let something like this happen in your school. Kids will communicate with us even if they are unaware of it. They will let us know that they are having problems and will use non-verbal communication as a way of asking for our help. We need to give them the help that they are begging for. By acting on the signs the kids are sending out, we can prevent future tragedies.