Such horror once again witnessed! Children and guardians at Sandy Hook Elementary School shot dead.
The news media is trying to figure this out. Some are already calling for gun control. Some are talking about how important it is to identify a troubled person early on. Other authorities are saying 98% of mental health with people is non violent. Some are trying to define this as a mass killing and not a school shooting. Why? There’s reassurance that schools are still some of the safest places in the USA for children to attend. Others are trying to say the shooter came from a broken home and his mother was rigid as if that’s the cause for this crime.
I understand our world is confused and shocked about this. If you listen closely to attempts to explain this tragedy, Psychologists are saying they’re very frustrated that we couldn’t stop something like this before it happened. They say prevention has to be, and here’s that phrase again, “early on.”
Talk about how to protect the children with a system of entry to schools can be better done. Some are saying we can’t turn our public places like schools into fortresses. Some are saying let children question parents instead of forcing the conversation about the murders on them. Some Psychologists say we can’t provide a silver bullet to guarantee something like this won’t happen again. Everyone is trying to cope. We live in a fallen world!
Instead of seeing this as a mental health problem and how to catch that early on, as if that will prevent another mass killing in this country, I would like to direct the question in a different way.
I’m not sure why the authorities aren’t addressing how important it is to detect twisted thinking early on, whether a person has mental health issues or not. How do we identify twisted thinking and can that be okay to do, even if we see it in children? What happens in any persons mind is the place to start. Let me illustrate.
Some elementary schools address the behavior or misbehavior of kids with a color card system. Blue and green cards are good and show exemplary behavior. Yellow, orange and red cards are not good. Progressively those colors show behavior becoming more irresponsible.
My 7-year-old grandson is in a school like that. A while back he came home two days in a row with the yellow card. His mother did a great job engaging with the teacher about this. Then I asked if this old papa could have a talk with the teacher.
I thanked the teacher for being involved with him and being willing to follow-up with a call to his mother. Then I said, “As his papa, this is where I’m going with my grandson. You’re addressing his behavior and that’s good. I’m addressing the thinking behind his behavior because if that doesn’t change, color cards alone won’t help. I’m talking to my grandson about where his thinking is going and when he gets a yellow card, I treat it as if he’s headed to red. So a yellow card is serious to us in this home.
Now, we’re not talking about a mental disorder or if the boy has ADD. We’re talking about any twisted way of thinking that results in irresponsible decision-making. So I want to support you as his teacher on the home front so my grandson understands he can’t be two different people in two different places. He’s one person in two different places and if he acts out in class, it’s as if he acted out in this home. If he wants to be stubborn in school or act like he doesn’t hear or won’t obey you, it’s as if he’s done that to me, his nana and his mother. We will continue to address the way he thinks and train him to be consistent in his thinking wherever he goes.”
After the phone call, my daughter said the teacher stated that in all the years of teaching – over 25 – she has never had a grandfather say, or do something like that. She was appreciative and felt support. She was given the authority to be a part of our family system.
How does this relate to Newtown, Connecticut? First, the early on thing that Psychologists are talking about starts with me! I mean, I must be aware of my own twisted thinking and see how it puts me into a direction where, if not arrested and changed, will find its way to hurting others, even if it’s a yellow card. None of us can escape that fact.
Second, as adults, parents and authorities in the lives of our children, we must be aware of how they are thinking and making decisions, not just what they are thinking. The how and the why are more important than the what, of their thinking. If we don’t get that, whatever changes we think the color card system with bring won’t last. Once we understand where they are going in their thinking and how they get there, we can begin preventive measures to offset the potential of being habitually irresponsible – early on.
We can’t do this alone, which is why we need good school teachers, like the one my grandson has; good Sunday school teachers; good community organizations for children with adults who understand this concept, and solid loving families where kids have structure.
Let me say this is not about thinking of our children as criminals, but as children who are bound up with foolishness and have to learn how to be responsible adults. Kids still need to be kids but I think we often sell them short about their ability to think responsibly.
One more thing: A friend of mine said you can’t take God out of the schools, the Bible out of schools and expect that humanity has a better way. I believe he is right.
Let’s mourn with those who mourn in Newtown. Let’s do what we can to shore up how we can protect children. Let’s not forget it starts with the way we think and where we’re going with that thinking. Let’s renew our minds on this matter about addressing twisted thinking with our children, and may I say, invite God to be a part of the process.