While at the library the other day, I picked up Newtown: An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak. I needed something to read, forgot my glasses, and it happened to be a large print edition. Compared to Columbine by Dave Cullen, this book read a bit like an extended news article that was rushed to press before solid reporting and editing. But it’s not bad, and honestly I am not sure anyone picks up one of these books because they are looking for a literary piece of art. The content is heart-wrenching.
After our recent school shooting in Portland, reading these books is triggering, because the writers detail horrific scenes that no one should ever have to experience. The events are surreal, many standard deviations beyond the norm for school. Due to our exposure of them from the media, it’s no wonder that like the war on terror, we feel fear for our children. We want to do something.
Statistically speaking, what we should do is not worry about school shootings.
Instead, we should focus our efforts on teaching our kids:
- To always wear seat belts
- To drive safely, and never drink and drive
- To swim competently
- To never put anything into their mouth unless they know exactly what it is – particularly prescription drugs that are now widely abused
- To be open and honest about their feelings, and seek treatment if depressed and feeling hopeless
Please know I am not saying that shooting events are unimportant. As a society we need to understand the antecedents behind these tragedies and work to reduce their occurrence in schools. But the real killers of our kids are not so newsworthy, which is why as parents we need to remain vigilant about them.