Boy With A Gun
I Have A Few Questions
It's time to continue to have the courage to ask important questions. But we can't just keep asking the same old questions which result in the same old answers.
We need to ask better questions which might result in better answers.
It's worth a try...
The Current American Approach To Address Shootings
"Say goodbye to the ones that we love." Green Day, 2016
How Can You Mend This Broken Man?
"How can you mend this broken man? How can a loser ever win? How can you stop the sun from shining?"
Bee Gees, 1971
Two Ultimate Questions:
The ultimate question is, "Instead of merely 'picking up the pieces' and providing schoolwide counseling, prayer, and memorial services for those whose lives have just been shattered, what can and should be done to prevent the shootings from occurring in the first place?"
We haven't yet found the answer. However, it seems to me we have been asking the wrong questions. We have been targeting the individual ("lone gunman") and ignoring the environment. We have been centering on politics and forgetting science and the arts. We have been looking at nature and forgetting about nurture. We have not effectively utilized concepts from anthropology, sociology, social psychology, economics, literature, mythology, ethology, and political science. Rather, we seem to emphasize the punitive, self-righteous, powerful, monetary, and repressive warfaring pathways. We have relied on the "Great Person" to rescue us and have ignored the zeitgeist. We have discounted the concepts of evolution and revolution. We seem to ignore or mistrust our own past, life experiences, and self-insights.
Why "boy" with a gun? Because the majority of violent incidents in the schools and society involve males. Therefore, a significant portion here asks the question of gender, "Why 'boy' with a gun?"
"We can't tolerate this any more."
President Barack Obama, December 16th, 2012
The Ultimate Goal...
Respect For Self And The Lives Of Others
Everyone thinks they can recognize mental illness...
It probably goes without saying that if someone shows up and shoots others, something's wrong.
But what differentiates a mentally ill person from a mentally healthy person?
Can we recognize a mentally healthy individual? What would a mentally healthy individual look like?
If we want to prevent mental illness it seems only logical to identify and strive toward positive mental health. Just as is true for mental illness, there are plenty of definitions of mental health. I've always been fond of Fromm's definition. Bonnie Brennen provides a brief synopsis of Erich Fromm's definition (from Searching for "The Sane Society:" Erich Fromm's Contributions to Social Theory):
"For Fromm, mentally healthy people have a strong sense of self and are productive and unalienated; they live by 'love, reason, and faith (1955, 204) and respect both their own lives as well as the lives of others.
He insists that in contemporary societies it is commonplace to encounter an individual who feels and acts like an automation, who is incapable of experiencing real emotions, "whose artificial smile has replaced genuine laughter; whose meaningless chatter has replaced communicative speech; whose dulled despair has taken the place of genuine pain" (1955, 16). Far from being considered an individual pathology, he suggests that such symptoms now describe millions of citizens living in democratic capitalist societies, and as a result Fromm wonders if it is possible for a sane society to flourish within the contemporary political, cultural, and environment."
Fromm's works are expansive and influential and can provide a great understanding of robotic individuals acting within the context of an authoritarian and sometimes [insane] society, and actively striving to escape it.
Just about everyone would seemingly qualify as being mentally ill in some ways and mentally healthy in other ways. Everyone fits into the DSM somewhere. Does everyone need their own personal therapist?
If you haven't yet read Escape from Freedom, you should close your browser, order the book, read it, and then return to BWAG at a later date.
Who Or What To Blame?
It seems there are three ways to affix blame:
- Internal: Whoever made the choice to show up and pull the trigger is to blame;
- External: Environmental or other explanations are to blame; and/or
- Everything: A myriad of internal and external factors/conditions are directly or indirectly involved.
The first addresses individual responsibility. He is responsible for his act and shall be punished accordingly.
The second blames someone or something else. For example, NRA blames mental health for all shootings. Or the shooter blames Planned Parenthood. Or the shooter blames the government. Etc.
The third still holds him accountable (internal factors) but tries to understand and explain why he did it (external factors/conditions) and seeks solutions (if we can figure out why he did it, maybe we can find a solution [i.e., make positive changes] to prevent future violent acts).
Internal and external factors... hmmmm, everything always seems to boil down to the same old unanswerable nature vs. nurture debate.
"Explanations" should never be confused with "Excuses"... there is never any excuse for these violent shootings, but an explanation or better understanding might lead to positive changes. That is the goal - to prevent future shootings.
The word "blame" is important. The question, "who's to blame?" reminds me of fourth grade. "I didn't do it, he did it." "No I didn't!" "Yes you did." "Well, you started it."
It is important to remember that seemingly the NRA blames the mental health field for all shootings.
One thing is for sure, the way things are now, whoever or whatever is to blame will be getting a detention.
The lone gunman, guns, NRA, education, mental health, parenting, gender, roles, socialization, music, video, fashion, politics, laws, the Supreme Court, race, religion, money, population, economy, quality of life, culture, values, history, biology, genetics, medications, conspiracies, the zeitgeist... the list goes on and on.
Let's see if we can find who or what is to blame. Here we go...
Too Many People?
As described by Zimbardo (1979), "The most thorough investigation of the relationship between population density and social-emotional pathology in animals was conducted by John Calhoun (1962, 1976) at the National Institute of Mental Health. Colonies of wild or tame rats or mice were reared in artificial habitats where the effects of increasing population could be observed over several generations..."
'...In one series of experiments, a kind of housing project was created in which there were four interconnected units. reached by a winding staircase. To reach the end units, the animals had to pass through the center ones, which soon became the focal point for social activity. When the population grew to about 80 rats -- 40 would have been optimal -- life destroying behaviors began to emerge.
Despite the presence of ample physical resources, such as food and nest building materials, there were frequent vicious fights between the males as well as unprovoked attacks on females and infants.
Some males were extremely aggressive, while others withdrew and became passive. Hypersexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality increased tremendously. Social order broke down completely to the point that such normal activities as nest building and infant care were ignored by the females, cannibalism occurred, and no infant reached maturity. Deviations in endocrine functioning were common, especially among the animals at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
In another version, living quarters were arranged as 'high-rise apartments' around an open area, again with ample food and nesting materials and freedom from germs, predators, and bad weather. Breakdown began when all the desirable physical spaces and social roles were filled. Dominant males started to break down, worn out from defending their territories. Females chased their young out of the nest early and became more aggressive and dominating. Young adults stopped struggling for territory of their own. With neither territory nor a useful role in the community life, they never had a chance to develop the interactive social behaviors needed for the survival of the group. Instead they took to a pathological 'life on the streets' in the large open central area. Even breeding ceased in the community. The last mouse died less than five years after the start of the study.'
I admit I'm not always a huge fan of all research ever performed by the NIMH, but this bit of research seems to be, uh, pretty import. It seems to explain a lot...
"The resource limitation is upon us."
Al Bartlett, Professor Emeritus, Physics, University of Colorado
The fact is there are too many people in too little space with not enough resources. Dave Gardner's Growthbusters documentary confronts these issues. The psychologist examines individual behavior within the context of the environment. Calhoun's research and Gardner's documentary remind us that we simply cannot continue to ignore the culture and environment as we seek answers to this very complex question.
Correlation is not causation, but quite simply, the more people there are the more shootings there are.
"The rat is never wrong."
Correlation is not causation, but quite simply, the more guns there are the more shootings there are.
Solution? You Want A Solution?
You Have Choices
When I first authored BWAG many years ago, a peer asked, "what are you saying?" He wanted to know what I meant by, "too many people." I said I was merely sharing the research. He still wanted to know what I was saying. I said, "I don't know, all I know is when you load up the earth with billions of people, things are going to get, um, well, like they are now." ...Much time has passed, 15 years to be exact, and finally I have found VHEMT's humanistic solution to the overpopulation problem. It involves individual choice. There's no violence or legislation or NWO conspiracies involved. It's simple and effective. Visit VHEMPT for the details.
EARLY WARNING SIGNS
It may be possible in some cases to prevent violence by heeding certain warning signs and obtaining help for troubled individuals. A U.S. Department of Education report (Dwyer, Osher & Warger, 1998) reiterates the finding that "most children who become violent toward self or others feel rejected and psychologically victimized. In most cases, children exhibit aggressive behavior early in life and, if not provided support, will continue a progressive developmental pattern toward severe aggression or violence." The authors caution against using checklists to diagnose and stereotype individual children (and others have argued that the development of such lists may be a violation of the student's civil rights -- I agree. It also is evident to me that 'profiling' doesn't work). The authors continue, "Recognizing early warning signs can be useful, however, in finding help and support."
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive feelings of isolation and being alone
- Excessive feelings of rejection
- Feelings of being picked on and persecuted
- Low school interest and poor academic performance
- Expression of violence in writings and drawings of children
- Uncontrolled anger
- Patterns of impulsive/chronic hitting, intimidation, bullying
- History of discipline problems
- Past history of violent and aggressive behavior
- Intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Affiliation with gangs
- Inappropriate access to, possession of, and use of firearms*
- Serious threats of violence
It is common for children who are troubled to exhibit multiple signs. Even exhibiting numerous signs, however, does not mean the situation is hopeless. The potential for violence can be reduced significantly when children have a positive, meaningful connection to an adult -- whether it be at home, at school, or in the community."
Is very important to mention that correlation is not causation. For example, just because someone gets angry, bullies others, has been bullied by others, or has received referrals, doesn't mean they will become violent. In seeking solutions, we can't just go down a checklist but we do need to account for, and consider, everything. Everything counts.
IMMINENT WARNING SIGNS
Dwyer et al (1998) continue, "Imminent warning signs indicate that a student [may be] very close to behaving in a way that is potentially dangerous to self or others. These signs are usually presented as a series of overt, serious, hostile behaviors or threats directed at peers, staff, or other individuals. They are usually evident to more than one staff person as well as the child's family and may include:
- Serious physical fighting with peers or family members
- Severe destruction of property
- Severe rage for seemingly minor reasons
- Detailed threats of lethal violence
- Possession and/or use of firearms and other weapons
- Other self-injurous behaviors or threats of suicide."
Here's the Easy Part:
These situations demand immediate intervention by school authorities, law enforcement, child and family services, mental health services, and/or parents, as appropriate.
Here's the Hard Part:
This is all nothing we don't already know. But what if law enforcement can't act until a law has been broken? What if appropriate mental health services aren't available (and they usually aren't... usually the kid is just diagnosed with ADHD, placed on meds, and sent on his way) or parent can't afford them? What if Child Protective Services considers such a referral inappropriate? What if the parents are unavailable? What if school authorities can only legally suspend for a few days? What if the school only thinks of the kid as a test score? What if no one refers the kid to the school psychologist, who provides powerful and free interventions? What if the school is misusing their psychologist, having him or her teaching reading and handing out M&Ms instead of allowing them to help students? What if expulsion or home schooling merely sends the student elsewhere, but doesn't solve the problem? What if...?
In sum, we rarely know for sure if someone is going to be a shooter until they, um, show up with a gun.
A Few Moments From My Career....
Here Are Just A Few...
It was the first week of school in my very first job as a school psychologist. The first grade teacher asked to consult with me regarding a student who was already experiencing some difficulties. She asked, "What should I do?" I replied, "Have you asked him how he feels about this? She thought for a moment and replied, "I didn't do that -- I didn't know boys had feelings."
The principal contacted me and asked me to help with a "difficult student." I came to the office to help however I could. I sat there, unable to get a word in edgewise for approximately 45 minutes while she screamed at the fifth grade boy, finally finishing with, "You're going to spend your life in prison!" All this because the student had been "noncompliant."
Two counselors took a group of students on a daylong field trip to a prison in typical Scared Straight fashion. The group, quite predictably, consisted of 21 boys and 3 girls. Upon their return, I asked the counselor how the trip went. She replied, "Well, the boys were interested, asked questions, and took part in the entire experience, but the girls didn't seem to get anything out of it or even care." She paused and reflected, "I guess that's because boys are natural-born criminals."
The kindergarten teacher asked for my assistance and told me she was going to refer her student to me, saying, "someday he's going to show up at school with a gun." The referral question: he had been tardy to school four days.
I needed a few students to help with a project. I approached the principal asking if he would recommend some student helpers. He replied, "You can get just about anybody at all to help, but just make sure they're girls... boys will let you down every time."
Speaking with a high-level administrator (superintendent) regarding a team I was coaching, I was explaining the emphasis I put on sportsmanship, teamwork, academics, etc. He replied, "Well, don't waste your time... once boys hit puberty, they turn into a--holes."
The fifth grade teacher confronted me in the hallway. She asked, "Why did you buy him lunch? He got a referral in my class."
Working with a kindergarten teacher, she replied, "I'm a teacher... I don't have time to look for the positives."
At an inservice, when presented with the philosophy of holding high expectations, a teacher said, "this whole expectancy thing is over-rated."
The kindergarten teacher was observed with her class on the way to recess, "Walk, walk, walk, walking, remember to walk, John walk! Walk, WALK! How many times do have to tell you to walk? Walking! Walk, walk..."
I'm sad to say I'm not always shocked when I hear of the latest shooting...
CAUTION: TEACHERS ARE HEROES... Teachers remain high on my list of heroes. I admire what you do for students on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, and year-by-year basis. I see miracles in your classroom on a daily basis. You have a powerful effect on students. Teaching remains one of the last noble professions and there exists no doubt that teachers are vastly underpaid and under-appreciated. I thank you for all you do for students, including for my own children. But please always be cautioned: you do have a powerful effect on students.
The Happiest Days of Our Lives...
When we grew up and went to school,
There were certain teachers
Who would hurt the children
In any way they could
By pouring their derision upon anything we did,
Exposing every weakness,
However carefully hidden by the kids...
Pink Floyd, The Wall, The Happiest Days of Our Lives
In subsequent interviews, Roger Waters has articulated that this song was directed at "only a few" [certain] teachers.
Um, Just A Few More Questions...
In the inevitable television interviews in the aftermath of Columbine, a high school girl, when asked her explanation, replied, "boys can't [aren't allowed to] show feelings -- that's gotta suck." True.
It seems to me that kids are either [legally] kids or they're [legally] adults, but they can't be both. A twelve year-old Florida boy has been sentenced to life in the pen for murder? Oh, you forgot about this one already? It's always been my view that if kids are going to be punished as adults, then they should hold full adult rights, status, and responsibilities. How can we send a twelve year-old to the pen for life but he isn't allowed to drive? How can we send a twelve year-old to the pen for life, but he isn't allowed to vote? Etc. I've never had anyone agree with me on this point -- what am I missing here other than the obvious fact that if the legal system can have it both ways, then... they can have it both ways. Outrageous!
On January 26th, 2001 (in light of the case mentioned above), it was proposed in Texas that teens should be allowed to vote. Maybe I'm not completely out in left field on this issue. Now, let's finish the job and give teenagers full adult rights and responsibilities... adolescence is merely a relatively invented legal status anyway. Update: I'll give you one guess as to whether or not that Texas proposal was ever adopted!
And would someone please explain to me [again] this thing about America's preoccupation with the male genital mutilation [circumcision] ritual? It seems to me that, at the very least, it is a highly painful process for the [victim]; at the worst, it starts the young boy's life in a violent, sadistic, torturous, and submissive [to authority] manner. That's a fine howdy-doody welcome into this world. I can't imagine why American males are so angry.
I guess I was absent from school the day they explained the logic of divorce. Could somebody please fill me in on how it was decided that, upon divorce, it is always the male's fault and the female gets the house, money, children, cars, pets, and then the male pays the female regularly for the next twenty years?
I can't imagine why American males are confused.
What Wall $treet geniu$ determined that gang$ter/pri$on/rapper gear [baggy pant$, etc.] must be worn by every American boy?
A critical period for a male [at any age] is when he finally realizes he's entirely expendable... when he realizes that once he has propogated the species he is no longer needed... when he realizes that once he has sacrificed his life for those back home his life is complete... when he realizes it's women and children first... when he realizes the genders really aren't equal and he's in last place. Those can be tough little life roles to swallow. And it hurts even more when he's constantly told, "It's a man's world and everything for you is a cakewalk." It would appear life isn't a mere cakewalk for males and some males seemingly aren't going to take it anymore.
How many acts of violence and sex do we have to witness every hour of television? Yeah, everyone knows, "Just turn off the set," but how many actually do turn off the tv? Just turn it off, eh? Go do something positive.
Let's keep going...
Boys + Guns = Money
No matter how you look at it, there's a lot of money to be made by a lot of people.
The President's Task Force will get together in good faith but will continue to ask the wrong questions, which are, "What is wrong with the boys?" and "What can we do to help?" And, in good faith, the wrong answers will once again emerge: "we will provide more mental health/support" (Good Cop) and "we need tougher laws (Bad Cop)"
The correct question should be: "How are we, as a society, failing to meet the needs of boys?"
The correct answer should be, "What do we, as a society and culture, need to change in the socialization of boys?"
The biggest winners of the new task force: The political system, the mental health system, and the legal system. As long as boys continue to violently act out, the politicians can continue to meet and make new laws, the mental health system will get more funding and clients (and Big Pharma will continue to thrive), and the legal system will expand (more police on the streets, more criminals in the pen, more prisons...). Pretty predictable.
Politicians establish task forces and make new laws...
Mental health pathologizes boys and places them on meds...
The legal system criminalizes boys and more prisons are built...
BOYS + GUNS + MEDS + COPS + TRIALS + PRISON + MEDIA + FUNERALS + LAWS + POLITICS = JACKPOT!
The biggest losers: Everyone.
At some point, this endless vicious circle needs to be broken. When?
"When half the population is in the pen, they're no longer criminals, they're the norm."
Former Senator Bob Kerry
"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation."
Henry David Thoreau
Good Guys vs. Bad Guys
You're In Fourth Grade Now
Much in the process of socializing males is geared toward aggression, protection, dominance, power, control...
Because we are a warfaring nation, boys, from the day they receive their very first toy gun on their very first birthday, are expected to grow up to be good soldiers, policemen, security guards, or cunning hunters. Should we really be surprised when any boy picks up a gun, especially if we just handed it to him? Isn't he doing what we seem to expect and train him to do. Everyone seems to be okay with this as long as he's one of the "good guys?"
A brief review of Kohlberg's stages of moral development reminds us that "most active members of society remain at stage four (conventional reasoning), where morality is still predominately dictated by an outside force:"
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun...
...is a good guy with a gun."
Wayne LaPierre, CEO NRA (12/21/12)
GGWAG: Good Guy With A Gun
We know how this story ends...
You are a good guy. You buy your gun and now, by definition, you are a good guy with a gun. Congratulations! The NRA is 100% with you - they got your back and you got their's too, baby! Everything is going along fine. You're a true hero to many, especially yourself. A protector. A tough, rugged, individual. A survivor. Certainly you're not one of those sheep for whom you hold so much disregard. You stand up for your rights, a defender of your God and the second amendment. A true American. Things are great.
Then you, like thousands and thousands of others, well, up and kill someone, often a loved one, family member, or somebody you just don't like, whether by accident or intentionally. Gee whiz. Now you're one of the bad guys with a gun. Things have all of a sudden changed pretty drastically for you and your victims. Suddenly the NRA doesn't have your back any more - they're calling you a mentally unstable bad guy. And now you're gonna lose your precious gun. Now you're just another bad guy.
I guess you didn't think this one all the way through.
Gender, Role$, & $ocialization...
"Is it individual pathology or the way we raise boys?"
Jackson Katz, Men's Resource Center, 2007
Jackson Katz, Educator, Author, Social Critic, and Nationally Acclaimed Lecturer, has been the leader in addressing all of the most important areas and factors related to gender, roles, and socialization. If you are not familiar with his works, take the time to watch the above video, watch his other videos, visit his website, read his works...
Mother & Daddy
Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls?
Oh, Mother, should I build a wall?
Mother, should I run for president?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me on the firing line?
Oh, mother, is it just a waste of time?
Hush, my baby. Baby, don't you cry.
Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you.
Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Momma's gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Oh baby. Of course Momma's gonna help build a wall.
Mother, do you think she's good enough?
Mother, do you think she's dangerous... to me?
Mother, will she tear your little boy apart?
Oh, Mother, will she break my heart?
Hush my baby. Baby don't you cry.
Momma's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Momma won't let anyone dirty get through.
Momma's gonna wait up until you get in.
Momma will always find out where you've been.
Momma's gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
Oh baby, you'll always be baby to me.
You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white
Barely daring to breath or Achoo.
Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time --
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly stature with one grey toe
Big as a Frisco seal.
And with a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to prey to recover you.
In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend.
Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich.
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you
And the language was obscene...
Everyone knows the genders are different, but in some new ways there isn't much gender equality. Some argue there never has been, but most American social and legal institutions favor and empower females while punishing males. It's obvious males have lost the gender wars on every front and are floundering in this matriarchal system. The last time there was such inequality between the genders, laws were passed to "level the playing field" for girls. Females have won the war and males admit it, females are the superior gender. We give up. Now that you are in charge, please help us.
Um, Er, Ah, Sex.
Much has been written regarding this topic, so I'll just mention a couple things...
Sexuality & Repression
"...American Beauty "raises the broader, widely explored issue of masculinity in crisis." Professor Vincent Hausmann charges that in their reinforcement of masculinity "against threats posed by war, by consumerism, and by feminist and queer challenges", [these] films present a need to "focus on, and even to privilege" aspects of maleness "deemed 'deviant'". Lester's transformation conveys "that he, and not the woman, has borne the brunt of [lack of being] and he will not stand for being emasculated. Lester's attempts to "strengthen traditional masculinity" conflict with his responsibilities as a a father... Hausmann concludes that Lester's behavior toward Angela is "a misguided but nearly necessary step toward his becoming a father again." Click here for the full page.
1 Egg + 1 Sperm?
Hold on, things aren't quite that simple!
There used to be a view that both genders were important. Both equally contributed to the future of the species in procreation. Mother and Father. One egg, one sperm. But hold on, things aren't quite so simple! Apparently, the accepted belief is that the egg is Queen and sperm are, well, there are trillions of 'em and they are a "dime a trillion." When egg and sperm are projected as "the female" and "the male," the perceived importance of the female becomes paramount (she is the one and only one) while the male just one of a trillion. From the start, the female is in charge of everything else - the child, the money, the family in the matriarchal, Amazonian, Boy And His Dog system. I'm not saying that's uh, good or bad (you decide). Also see Has Feminism Changed Science? by Londa Schiebinger
More Facts About Risk for Violence...
The following information was provided by Richard Lieberman in 2000.
Survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (1997), the Sherri Poll (1999), among others give us a great deal of data about the occurrence of risk issues in the adolescent population.
Easy access to firearms...
40% of homes have firearms and many of those guns are accessible to children. 12.5% of males carried a weapon (gun, knife, or club) onto school property at least once in a year (CDC, 1997).
Difficult family relationships...
35% of adolescents surveyed identified having a difficult family as a fairly (19%) or very serious (16%) problem.
Drug use and abuse...
43% of adolescents surveyed listed drug and alcohol as a fairly to very serious problem (Shell Poll, 1999). 33.4%
of adolescents surveyed have had five or more drinks in the last 30 days (CDC, 1997). More than 25% of high
school youth have used marijuana in the last 30 days.
Suicide remains the second leading cause of adolescent deaths (Surgeon General, 1999). In one year, 15.7% of adolescents had a specific serious plan to attempt suicide and 7.7% actually made an attempt (CDC, 1997). 4.1% of ninth graders (the peak year) surveyed made a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or
nurse (CDC, 1997). 14.7% of youth say they are worried most of the time. 4% of youth say they are depres-sed most of the time while 4% are lonely most of the time.
Fighting and aggression...
33.6% of adolescents have been in a physical fight (in/out of school) in 1 year (CDC, 1997). 20% of male adolescents have been in a fight on school property (CDC, 1997). 7% of adolescents have angry feelings most of the time (Shell Poll, 1999).
Cruelty to animals...
Over 30% of male college students surveyed admit cruelty to animals (personal communication).
44% of high school students list pressure to get good grades as the pressure felt most (Shell Poll, 1999). On average, children of poverty with a 13% success rate are less than half as proficient as their non-poor peers in 8th grade measures. High school students receiving special education have more failing grades than their peers (Education Goals Panel, 1999).
Mental illness, emotional, and behavioral problems...
Four million (11%) of youth suffer from major mental illness that results in significant impairment at home, school, and with peers. 6.1% of 9-17 year-olds are clinically depressed. 21% of children ages 9-17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder associated with at least minimum impairment.
20% of youth report being bullied at school and 4% have missed school within the last 30 days because they fear being intimidated or bullied (CC, 1997).
21% of high school students report that they confront five or more serious adolescent risk problems (Shell Poll, 1999). Risk behaviors tend to co-occur or cluster in the same youths, meaning that many youths have multiple signs of problems (i.e., drug use, poor grades, difficult family life, suicidal ideation, etc.). Adolescents who are placed at risk by poverty have greater rates of problems than those who are not poor (Institute of Medicine, 1999). 25% of adolescents list as a fairly to serious problem that they do not have an adult to talk with about problems or decisions (Shell Poll, 1999).
We have no idea how many youth are overly obsessed with violent music, violent video games, and violent movies but those products do sell. We have no idea on how many youth think about hurting others in school. We have no data on how many have ever made a plan to be violent.
"Who are the dangerous kids? The dangerous kids are the ones with the weapons."
Richard Lieberman, 2000
Another Significant Number...
According to the Department of Justice, from 1996 to 2005, there were, on average, approximately 19 juvenile felony arrests related to weapons per day in California.
Another Significant Number...
"A young man ain't got nuthin' in the world these days."
Young Man Blues, The Who, 1970
Another Significant Number...
"My generation is zero."
21st Century Breakdown, Green Day, 2009
You may be debating or wondering about the appropriate DSM diagnosis for school shooters...
In the end, there is no educational, DSM, or §504 diagnosis for "school shooter."
Would any diagnosis change anything? Will any diagnosis make other students safer? Will any diagnosis prevent future shootings? You know how I feel about labels but if I thought labeling and diagnosis could save even one innocent life, I'd be all for it.
If there has been a diagnosis, it's obviously been a misdiagnosis. Had the diagnosis (i.e., school shooter) been accurate, then a school shooting could have, should have, or at least might have been prevented.
And even if the soft sciences could accurately assess and diagnose "school shooter," you can't lock up a potential violent criminal until he has become violent (at least not yet).
No diagnosis can predict a school shooting. Let's pick any random diagnosis to use as an example. Let's take ADHD (although you could fill in any ol' DSM diagnosis here). ADHD does not cause school shootings; if it did, then every human diagnosed with ADHD would be a school shooter. We can only conclude that humans are much more than their IQ score, their gender, or their [mis]diagnosis. We can also conclude "school shooter" is not a mental health issue (there's no diagnosis for school shooter). You can't provide mental health interventions for something that is not a mental health condition. We've also learned from experience that throwing a lot of government money at mental health won't solve this problem (in the past few years the Obama administration provided huge funding to bring mental health [i.e., the clinical model] into the schools, resulting in scores of undertrained behavior interventionists rounding up children of poverty, cementing their ADHD diagnosis, enrolling them in anger management classes, and signing them up for years of medication).
In mental health practice, when/if a human tells the practitioner they are considering harming themselves or others (or if the practitioner so suspects), the therapist is legally required to immediately turn the case over to law enforcement: in this regard, even mental health clinicians admit school shooters are a legal issue and not a mental health issue. And then an interesting back-and-forth shuffle inevitably occurs:
Mental health hands over the client to the legal system ("hey, this is a legal issue - you take him").
Legal system hands the client back to mental health ("hey, this guy is crazy - you take him").
Back and forth. Maybe we can only surmise that neither the mental health system or the legal system can provide the solution here (yet, the current Presidential Task Force will end up throwing more money at both systems).
If you feel an individual diagnosis is essential in these situations, let's diagnose this phenomenon for what it really is, In Real Language: murderer.
Something Seems To Be Missing...
"I need to find a place to hide. You never know what might be waiting outside."
Green Day, Restless Heart Syndrome, 2009
Mental Health Part II
Help Is Available
Excerpt From Psychology Today (Karen Franklin, Ph.D.)... "High-quality, affordable, dependable and stable treatment, in which the clinician forges a real human connection with the patient, can save lives. Yet, high quality treatment is scarce, and getting scarcer. Instead, jails and prisons are primary sites for the impersonal medication maintenance that passes for treatment these days." More
Respect, dignity, and making real-life caring connections with humans! Mental health is available... contact your school's psychologist.
Mental Health Part III
Who Are The Experts?
"Teach your children well."
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (1970)
We are here now at this point in American history. Society and institutions have crumbled, shattered, fallen. Fragmented, imploded, exploded. Conflict everywhere. Old vs. young. Male vs. female. Black vs. white. Republican vs. Democrat. Conservative vs. Liberal. Religion vs. science. Tall vs. short. Winners vs. losers. Rich vs. poor. Bully vs. victim. Good guys vs. bad guys. Smart vs. dumb. With vs. Without. Pro Gun vs. Anti Gun. Pro Choice vs. Right to Life. Pretty vs. Ugly. Fat vs. skinny. Boss vs. worker. Smoker vs. nonsmoker. Cowboy vs. Indian. You vs. Me. Us vs. them. The list seemingly goes on forever. If you don't believe me, try getting into your car and calmly driving down the street.
Some individuals from fragments of any of these or other groups sometimes seem to choose violent methods to try to resolve their conflicts or eliminate their perception of the problem. So why should we assume our children will be any different? Social Learning Theory (Bandura & Walters) would argue that our children are doing exactly what we are teaching them to do.
"Teach your parents well."
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (1970)
Maybe the kids are trying to tell us something? Maybe the adults are so busy "teaching" the kids, the adults aren't listening to the kids? Maybe adults have forgotten that education is [theoretically] always a two-way process. Teaching children isn't just telling them what to do and punishing them when they don't follow your rules, complete your homework, or instantly comply with whatever you just told them to do.
How often do we stop to learn from students? What are the kids teaching us? Maybe they're saying something like, "I've been talking for fifteen years and you haven't ever heard a word I've said, so take this!" Maybe they're saying, I'm tired of having no rights." Or "Quit blaming me for all of your problems." Or, "Why do you spend all your time punishing me?" Or, "Why is your Budweiser more important to you than me?" Or, "I love you, you're my hero -- why did you abandon me?" Maybe shooting adults or others (or themselves) is the only way they can get us to pay attention to them?
We continue to expect our children to learn from us (the so-called experts), but I know I've learned a lot more from students in my career than they've learned from me. Maybe it's time we can start learning from them? All we really have to do is ask better questions and then start listening to them...
With our backs to the wall, maybe we no longer have a choice.
Where Are They Learning This?
Disclaimer: the following is just fantasy. There is no relation between this fantasy and real-life. It's just filler. Skip this section.
"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? "
Freddie Mercury, Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
Hmmmm. Our government ("Us") impulsively and often wages violent warfare on other nations ("Them"). At the drop of a hat our nation forcefully bullies less-powerful countries while blaming the action upon... them. Our politicians bicker to the self-defeating point where nothing gets done - our political parties stubbornly and endlessly compete rather than cooperate, even to the point of self-annihilation (e.g., the present "fiscal cliff"). Our government (i.e., our leaders, those upon whom we apparently are to model ourselves) have seemingly lost their identity - no one seems to know what is right or wrong... apparently they'll do anything for a vote or money. As other anonymous forces drag our county down the tubes to serve their own needs, they apparently have no conscience and it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys?
Hmmmm. Shooters impulsively wage violence on innocent and less powerful humans. Almost always acting alone and anonymously, there is apparently little if any cooperation with others -- he only cooperates with others to the degree necessary to meet his own needs (to remain undetected, to obtain his weapon, etc.). Apparently the school shooter has no conscience and apparently is okay with self-annihilation as he drags others down to serve his own distorted needs?
Us and Them
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me, and you
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the General sat, as the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black and Blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up and Down
And in the end it's only round and round and round
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside
Down and Out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about
And who'll deny that's what the fighting's all about
Get out of the way, it's a busy day
And I've got things on my mind
For want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died
Roger Waters & Rick Wright, Pink Floyd © T.R.O. Inc.
I just can't figure out why this school shooter phenomenon is occurring. It seems like these shooters are learning this from someone. Do you have any idea where they are learning this?
Movies & Entertainment
Here are a few possibly pertinent movies addressing, relating to, and/or examining the human experience in the context of society. There's no guarantee you will actually like the movies listed below, but each seems to explore important topics. What do you think?
Arts & Sciences
An ongoing debate and topic of conversation amongst social scientists involves the use of research, data, and evidence in our methods and service delivery.
Recently, a fellow professional stated, "Everything we do must be based on sound, solid research." I disagreed, stating that, "as scientific-practitioners, we of course must effectively utilize the principles of science, but as professionals and humans, we cannot forget or ignore the arts (including creativity, humanism, philosophy, insight, inspiration, love, perceptions, courage, heroism, leadership, philosophy, music, literature, affect, gestalt...)."
Education emerges from the school of arts and sciences.
Science can be powerful but is just one of many methods to help humans.
Less Is More...
There is no doubt that school psychologists and many others on campuses throughout our nation prevent many violent incidents on a daily basis; I wish it was possible to gather, describe, and analyze data related to prevention and successful interventions in this area.
But what does get reported are the violent incidents -- not the millions of students in America who arrive home safely from school every afternoon.
I must emphasize the great respect I hold for everything school psychologists -- and all professional educators -- do for students. But still, as dedicated professional educators (and more importantly, humans), we continue to ask, what else must be done to prevent violence on campus?
Believe it or not, there might be an answer. At least I believe there might be an answer... or maybe, answers. Certainly, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that violence on campuses could be reduced the same way violence in society could be reduced - by treating humans equally, with respect and dignity, and encouraging positive mental health within a democratic structure (i.e., allowing all stakeholders to have a say in important matters). Ten years ago, no one would listen to that recommendation. Maybe now?
And maybe it might be just as important to stop performing a few current ineffective practices. For example, the clinical mental health field could stop diagnosing invented "disabilities," placing the student on magical medications, and subjecting the student to years of "therapy" and other clinical "treatments" in order to make money. Likewise, the legal system could quit inventing criminals and incarcerating them in order to make money. Sometimes, Less is More.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with the child at all -- maybe the child is responding exactly the way any of us would if we found ourselves in exactly the same circumstance? The rat, after all, is never wrong.
"We're normal and self-controlled."
B.J. Armstrong, Green Day
"Repression is more detrimental to the oppressor than it is to the oppressed.
Teacher With A Gun
TWAG was originally published August 15th, 2008 - Here is the original but now inactive Yahoo link
School District To Let Teachers Carry Guns.
by Jim Forsyth, Bruce Nichols, & Vicki Allen
(Reuters) - A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district's superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the U.S.
The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district's superintendent, David Thweatt. School experts backed Thweatt's claim that Harrold, a system of about 110 students 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, may be the first to let teachers bring guns to the classroom.
Thweatt said it is a matter of safety. "We have a lock-down situation, we have cameras, but the question we had to answer is, 'What if somebody gets in? What are we going to do? he said. "It's just common sense [sic]."
Teachers who wish to bring guns will have to be certified to carry a concealed handgun in Texas and get crisis training and permission from school officials, he said. Recent school shootings in the United States have prompted some calls for school officials to allow students and teachers to carry legally concealed weapons into the classroom...
Updated story (12/21/12): Texas Town Allows Teachers to Carry Concealed Guns
TWAG: Common Sense?
Note: TWAG was originally published in 2008.
Either everyone gets a gun or no one gets a gun. It has to be one or the other.
Let me get this straight... to make schools "safe," HISD
is going to load up the whole staff with guns?
"Who are the dangerous teachers? The dangerous teachers are the ones with the weapons."
Let's look at just a few of the many possible outcomes of this Texas decision:
A Couple Possible Positive (+) Outcomes:
1) Teacher guns down a school shooter, saving student lives, and is deemed a hero.
2) If/when it is shown teachers with guns prevent violence, that would be good, right?
A Couple Possible Negative (-) Outcomes:
1) Teacher gets mad at student and guns him or her down.
2) Teacher gets mad at, um, anyone else and guns them down.
According to The Brady Center, "It does not appear that the Harrold ISD has complied with Education Code requirements. There is no shortcut to school security when our children's lives are at stake. Any armed personnel on school property should be properly commissioned, licensed, and trained as peace officers. There is far more to the job than simply having a concealed carry license and undergoing some additional training."
Yet, according to Yahoo, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicated... that he supports [the] school district's decision to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes start his month."
Is Governor Perry aware that the district's decision might be illegal? And did he consider all of the related issues including ethics, safety, education, and mental health, as well as any and all possible subsequent intended and unintended consequences?
He spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Do you think he mentioned or explained his, or his party's, platform regarding guns in the schools? I'll give you one guess.
I, on the other hand, have the courage to explain my views and ask great questions:
As a skeptical social scientist, I have to ask questions.
As a humanist, I have to ask questions.
As a parent, I have to ask questions.
As a school employee, I have to ask questions.
As a professional educator, I have to ask questions.
As an American citizen, I have to ask questions.
As editor of this piece, I have to ask questions.
As a human being, I have to ask questions.
I have to ask great questions even if Texas politicians won't.
Here they are:
1. Is it just teachers who are allowed to have guns in the HISD or does every adult get one?
Does the superintendent get one? Classroom aides? Cafeteria workers? Custodians? Bus drivers? School psychologists? Coaches? Speech therapists? Adult volunteers? Room parents? School nurses? Campus visitors? Secretaries? Afterschool tutors? Crossing guards? Board members? PDA volunteers? Itinerants? Visiting advocates? Who, specifically? Everyone and anyone who gets permission?
2. What about the students? Each and every one of them needs a gun too, right?
We are mandated (by another Texas politician) to Leave No Child Behind. We don't want to discriminate against them based solely on age, grade, or ability, do we? The question has been asked. Most motivated high schools students should be able to meet the criteria (at least as set forth by HISD). Many middle schoolers should be able to meet the criteria. I bet there are even quite a few third, fourth, and fifth graders who could meet the criteria. Some will, some won't. Hmmmm, better not tick of the kid sitting at the next desk... he has a gun.
"To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788
3. What if one student meets the criteria and is given permission by school authorities to tote, but another student isn't given permission? Why can your third grader carry but mine can't? Sounds like discrimination by me. I'll sue of course. The only fair and equitable solution, allowing equal access to education for all, is to allow all students to carry guns from preschool on up. And by the way, my third grader's gun is bigger than your third grader's.
4. As it relates to civil rights, will carryin' become a 504 reasonable accommodation for the victims of bullying? Hey, reasonable is reasonable, right? Common sense is common sense.
5. Is it all just a moot point anyway? Nationwide, how many adults, especially superintendents, principals, and educators in Utah are already packin'? And um, how many students are carryin'?
6. What about the parents? I'm a parent. You might be a parent too. I know I'm not going to go on campus to scream at my kid's teacher or coach or principal if they have a gun and I don't! All adults on campus need a gun, including parents, right? Someone has to protect my kid's honor if a teacher is going to tell me he's failing or receiving sad faces.
7. Is it only guns that are allowed? What type of gun? A semi-automatic machine gun? Assault rifle? Bazooka? What about brass knuckles? Numbchucks? Mace? A baseball bat? Club? Stun gun? Poison pills? Anthrax? You never know what you might need to protect yourself from a school shooter. Will teachers be allowed to fire up tanks on campus? Yeah, I know, I'm exaggerating -- obviously only concealed weapons are allowed at HISD -- they can't do any real damage like a bazooka, for example. Concealed handguns are, you know, safe. Guns don't kill people... teachers kill people.
8. Is the decision to allow teachers to carry guns legal or not? One side says, "Yes," the other side says, "No." How many years will this questions be in the courts? How many millions [or billions] of taxpayers' dollars will have to be spent until the courts will finally decide whether or not teachers can have guns? Who will be making money from HISD's decision? Yeah, that's a rhetorical question... we already know who will be making the money.
9. Which district in our nation will be the first to allow students to carry guns? The question has been asked. I don't know for sure, but I predict it will be somewhere in Texas (or San Francisco). If there is a first, then there will be a second, and a third...
It is occurring to me that this Texas plan won't work the ways it is seemingly intended unless and until every single citizen has a gun. No Citizen Left Behind.
Let's gather more information. Go to your favorite search engine and type in the term, "Public shootings by adults." Quite a few (30,100,100 on Yahoo) hits! Here are two I found:
1. John R. Lott, Jr. is mentioned quite frequently near the top of the search engine returns. He appears to be a Harvard professor who, along with William M. Landes, has done some "research" which, "for the first time," would seemingly indicate that shootings occur less frequently in states/locales where permitted concealed handguns are allowed. That's called an inverse relationship (the more weapons you have, the less killing occurs -- that concept didn't work out that well in the old Wild West, but maybe it'll work in the new Wild West, eh?).
As described by the NRA Leader, in part, "right-to-carry laws reduce the number killed or wounded from multiple victim public shootings as many attackers are either deterred from attacking or when attacks do occur they are stopped before the police can arrive."
Here's a current link: Meet John Lott, the Man Who Wants to Arm America's Teachers
by Molly Redden (The New Republic, 12/19/12)
2. Is there another view? An alternative hypothesis? Let's keep searching the web.. In addition to the aforementioned Brady Center information, here's another interesting one, research from The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
You can read the entire article at: http://www.cjcj.org/pubs/shooting/shootings.html
From the CJCJ research, here are some significant numbers...
Child Deaths in America in Context, 1997-98:
The number of people (including some adults) who were shot and killed in school during the 1997-98 year.
The number of children shot and killed in Pearl, Mississippi; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Edinboro, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Oregon.
The number of children who died in two days from family violence (child abuse or neglect, at the hands of their parents or guardians).
The number of children who die from gunfire every day.
The number of children who die from gunfire every year.
The percentage of children under age 12 who are homicide victims, and are killed by adults.
The percentage of youths between 12-17 who are homicide victims, and are killed by adults.
As always, read for yourself and make up your own mind, but to me, in addition to everything else from that research, it seems important to remember that:
Of the 3,024 children under age 17 who die by gunfire every year...
...75 to 90% ARE MURDERED BY ADULTS!!!
TWAG considerations, questions, and impressions...
- Remember, teachers are adults.
- Students are apparently to become the new political pawns in the Second Amendment vs. Gun Control battle.
- Schools are apparently where this legal and political war will now be waged.
- Teachers with guns is a legal and political battle -- unfortunately, it is now an educational battle.
- Get lawyers and politicians out of the schools now.
- Who is/will be making money from this decision? Lawyers and special interest groups for now.
- Get special interest groups out of the schools now.
- Who's watching the school boards?
- Is anyone in the mainstream new media asking these questions?
- Who's research are you going to believe? There are two different results from the soft sciences.
- These questions can't be answered by research -- they must be answered by [thinking] humans.
- Both sides claim a monopoly on "common sense." What is "common sense" to you?
- Are you going to say, "as long as it's legal, I guess it's okay?" Have you ever seen an unethical law?
- Texas isn't that far away... Are you okay if your child's district implements the HISD policy?
- What happens next?
- Consider speaking up. Would now be a good time to do so?
Just asking a few questions, that's all. And making a few positive suggestions....
Please understand TWAG isn't about the NRA vs. Gun Control debate (Update: 02/06/16, yep, I gotta admit it, it's about the NRA vs. Gun Control debate). Those two camps have been going at it for quite awhile. Resolution of that question/conflict is far beyond the scope of this mere TWAG segment. This is about guns in the schools... teachers with guns... and others with guns IN THE SCHOOLS, and whether or not you will allow the schools to remain the playground for politicians and lawyers. I'm not entering into, or taking sides on, the nationwide debate regarding the right to possess arms vs. gun control view -- I'm merely asking if teachers should have guns in the schools (i.e., I'm asking an educational question -- not a political question).
- Where do you work? Are you okay if everyone in your workplace is packin'? Well?
- Is the Texas governor okay if everyone in his state capital building is packin'? Well?
- Is the Texas judge okay if everyone in his courtroom carries in a concealed weapon? Well?
- Was everyone at the 2008 Republican National Convention allowed to bring in weapons? Well?
- How about the 2012 Republican National Convention? Well?
Decide for yourself or else powerful special interest groups will decide for you. Whoops, I think they already have.
"If you learn how to use a gun, you can save a life."
Laura Ingraham, August 21st, 2008
"If you learn how to use a gun, you can take a life."
Don Asbridge, August 21st, 2008
NRA Wants To Arm The Teachers
NRA wants to arm the teachers...
Here's Mary Cathryn Ricker's response...
I agree with Mary Ricker's version of how to most appropriately arm teachers and I agree with her conclusion:
Keep the NRA out of the schools.
The NRA needs to be careful what they ask for. If/when the NRA steps on any given school campus, they need to know many still haven't figured out if they are the good guys or the bad guys.
Keep the NRA out of the schools.
EWAG: Everyone With A Gun, Eh?
EWAG: The Battle Lines Are Drawn...
by Philip Elliott, Associated Press
As expected, the NRA drew the line in the sand today: If the bad guys get guns then the good guys get guns too.
NRA Apparently Promotes Good Killings?
I guess the NRA says it's okay for the good guys to kill? Now we'll have good guys killing bad guys in the schools? That'll be better, eh? It'll be, uh, good killing?
Why do schools remain the political battleground for everyone to wage their own personal and political wars and forward their own agendas? Why can't kids just go to school to learn?
There have been mall shootings. There have been theater shootings. There have been shootings just about everywhere. Why isn't the NRA advocating for everyone in the malls and theaters and every street corner to be armed? Wait, I guess they are.
Should everyone everywhere always be armed? That seems to be the NRA's agenda. And apparently that's what the citizens want too?
It's A Whole New Ball Game
If all students are now going to have guns as the NRA advocates, obviously there are a lot of new questions. Here are a few scenarios we didn't used to have to think about in the schools. No one taught us this in college. Hopefully someone from the NRA will provide the answers?* Thank you in advance.
Scenario #1: Two second graders are having a heated argument on the playground and they simultaneously pull out their weapons, each pointing his 44 magnum at the other. The staff member must make an instant decision - which second grader is the "good guy" and which is the "bad guy?" Which second grader will the heavily armed staff member need to shoot?
Scenario #2: Third grader "A" has been bullying Third Grader "B." Clearly "A" is the bully (bad guy) and "B" is the victim (good guy). On Tuesday, "B" has had enough and pulls out his Ruger and kills the bad guy during math. So "B" (the victim) has just killed "A" (the bully) and "B" will of course be the good guy and be recognized as Student Of The Month by the NRA, but should he still get a detention?
Scenario #3: The fourth grader realizes his gun is not as powerful as all the other students' guns and begins to suffer from lowered self-esteem. Should the school purchase the student a new, similarly-calibered weapon as a 504 accommodation to "level the playing field" or just provide counseling to help the student improve self-esteem?
Scenario #4: The fifth grader brings to school the new assault rifle he received as a Christmas present. The school disciplinarian takes away the weapon and tells the student she is just holding it until the parents come to pick it up after school. Obviously, the school is violating the student's constitutional right to protect himself and the parents are pretty heated up about it. What should be the appropriate monetary settlement for the parents - I mean the student?
Scenario #5: It's lunch time in the cafeteria and one thing leads to another and you know, boys will be boys... a gunfight inevitably breaks out. There are 341 students in the cafeteria, each student wildly firing away. There are 17 armed staff members who, upon hearing the commotion, rush in to the cafeteria. Should the staff members start firing their weapons into the out-of-control group to, um, stop the killings? Or should the staff just let real life play out and give the survivors, if any, suspensions?
*These are horrific and offensive scenarios and I ask the NRA to apologize and renounce their political position to bring guns into the schools. These are the kind of scenarios we in the schools now have to think about and prepare for. If the NRA arms everyone in the schools, the NRA will be to blame. They can't blame mental health for this one.
Fearful of Ban, Frenzied Buyers Storm Gun Stores by Joseph Pisani, Associated Press
...still don't get it.
CAUTION: Very Strong Language & Intense Themes*
George Carlin (1988) forwards a few, um, observations.
Every American should listen to Dick Gregory's entire human rights speech at Kent State.
I'm not going to provide any links here (you can Google the terms if you want) but apparently many [millions?] are considering the Newtown shootings to be a "false flag" attack by our government? I include this information here because I always encourage all of us to be skeptical and forward the null hypothesis (everything counts). Personally, I don't believe our government would kill children, but if I'm going to ask and encourage all of us to consider everything, I guess I need to be consistent. Consider everything and then make up your own mind. If/when we ever get to the point where we honestly believe our government is killing children, we might as well give up, eh?
*There is language in these two videos (as well a the conspiracy videos if you pursue that option) that humans hear and probably use every day; but if you don't want to hear, uh, words and thoughts, then, well, what can I say? What is more offensive to you: words and thoughts? Or violent school shootings? I think we need to hear and consider all ideas from everyone - all stakeholders. Everything counts.
New Task Force #1
First, the President's New Task Force...
by Justin Sink, Mike Lillis and Jordy Yager (12/19/12)
(From the article) "A poll released Wednesday by Gallup found Americans believe increasing the police presence at schools and upping federal spending on mental health screenings and services are more likely to deter mass shootings than banning the sale of assault weapons.
Of those surveyed, 53 percent say more police would be "very effective" in helping to prevent school shootings, while 47 percent say the same of decreasing the depictions of violence in pop culture. Half those surveyed say increasing mental health spending would "very effective," but only 42 percent say that of banning the sale of assault weapons.
But the selection of Biden to head the commission is a clear indication that much of the group's focus will center on gun laws. The vice president was a key player in the effort to pass the federal assault-weapons ban in 1994, earning him an "F" grade from the National Rifle Association. In 2008, the NRA deemed him the "most anti-gun vice president in America."
I commend President Obama for "doing something" after this shooting. Presidents are expected to "do something" after something happens. President Bush "did something" after the 911 attacks. Obviously just "doing something" isn't always the best plan.
And I also appreciate that President Obama intends to offer "real reforms" by January. I am the one always calling for immediacy... everything on my site points to, "All We Have Is Now." But it doesn't matter if the reform occurs this afternoon if it's not "real reform." It's nice (at least for some of us) to hold hope that assault weapons will be banned or the size of clips will be reduced... that's one small step... that's a reform... but it's merely a start and, as many have pointed out, that one small step probably won't solve the problem. If the goal is "real reform," read every word of this BWAG.
"Real Reform" isn't just quickly passing a law and throwing more money at mental health.
"Real Reform" could occur by involving all stakeholders.
President Obama, immediately after the Connecticut shootings, you said you would call together citizens... I ask you to follow through with your promise and be sure to include all stakeholders (not just representatives from the legal/justice and mental health fields) in this process of "real reform."
I recommend the following, if not already, be invited to be members of the new presidential task force:
The following are deceased but their eternal works should be considered as the task force seeks solutions:
New Task Force #2
Wow, everyone's starting their new task force!
by the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence
Published on December 19, 2012
"The undersigned school violence prevention researchers and practitioners and associated organizations wish to comment on the tragic acts of violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which have shaken the nation..."
As per the press release, the group emphasizes and recommends balance, communication, connectedness, and support:
- A balanced, well integrated approach, rather than more security;
- Maintaining close communication and trust with students;
- Provide troubled individuals the support, treatment, and help they need; and
- Schools need to reach out to build positive connections to marginalized students.
There is more of course. Click the link above for the full article or get the PDF Version.
Pros: It's a feel-good document and seems to forward easy common sense answers to complex problems... like we should all work together as a team. It also states that schools and society should address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students -- not just isolating and targeting behavior as so many in the schools are doing now.
Cons: Only nine researchers got together - doesn't really seem to be much of an interdisciplinary group - I don't see any students being included as part of the group. Most of the research (as well as the obvious conclusions and recommendations) has been around for a long time. The document concludes with the call for all of us to work together... again, sounds great, but...
"Every discussion in America always ends up in a big food fight."
Okay, it's not a perfect document, but it's a feel-good document and we have start somewhere. A lot of organizations and individuals have endorsed it (although it is important to note The Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, has not endorsed it).
Hey, someone's gotta make some good money off all these recent shootings; why not the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence?
So I think you should read it and consider it. I'm not going to endorse it but we need to consider all views as we decide what to include and exclude as we move forward.
Okay, what's fair is fair. I'm the one who's always saying to be skeptical and to consider the null hypothesis. So in this section, I'll do just that. What if there isn't a nationwide shooting epidemic? What if we don't have to change everything we're doing? What if what we're doing is, um, working?
The chart above clearly indicates an average of 4.3 mass shootings per year occurred in the 1990s while, on the average, only 2.4 such killings per year occurred in the 2000s. These numbers would indicate we're doing, um, twice as, um, good as we were doing in the 90's. Maybe we should celebrate! Maybe we should just continue to do whatever we've been doing for the past ten years? Maybe things are getting -- better?
As per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the chances of any U.S. citizen being a victim at the hands of a stranger or someone known are a lot less now than they were say, ten or fifteen years ago. Again, maybe we should celebrate and keep up the good work! Maybe we're just doing the best that we can in this zeitgeist? Everyone deserves a raise?
Maybe only 10 or so victims per 1000 aged 12 or older should be considered a natural byproduct of our system and we should just accept that? Everything is.
Maybe only 2.4 mass killings per year should be considered a natural byproduct of our system and we should just accept that? Everything is.
Maybe public killings really aren't a significant problem at all (unless you or your loved ones are the ones caught in the firing zone) and should just be expected given the normal curve where almost everyone [else] has a weapon?
We can't be perfect all the time, right?
The null hypothesis to the null hypothesis: This isn't a problem at all... in fact we're doing better!
Skepticism: Not to worry, we're doing the best we can in this zeitgeist and no matter what happens, someone is making a lot of money.
Maybe this whole BWAG is all just a moot point. I'm going bowling (and so are the task forces).
More Significant Numbers...
31 As per the Brady Campaign, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day.
91 According to Everytown For Gun Safety, on an average day, 91 American are killed with guns.
36 According to the Huffington Post, guns kill an average of 36 people per day.
Usually I am an eternal optimist, but there is little chance this problem will soon go away.
I wish I could offer a better prognosis.
Unless and until significant societal changes occur, we'll all just keep disagreeing, calling each other names, and blaming each other. Then we'll have a big food fight.
There are so many more questions that need to be asked. There's not enough time. Here's another one:
Is the shooter the problem, or is the shooter a symptom of the problem?
So, Who's To Blame?
"Don't be afraid, just look at yourself."
Uriah Heep, 1971
A Few Ideas...
...for your consideration:
- The dangerous humans are the ones with the weapons. Don't provide children access to weapons.
- Banning assault weapons will never happen and wouldn't resolve the issue. Maybe though, at the very least, there could be some restrictions to magazine/clip sizes? That would be a nice gesture.
- If you want the right answers you have to ask the right questions.
- Strive toward the goal of less police.
- Strive toward the goal of less mental health.
- Schools can't remain the political playground for all the special interest groups. Shootings seemingly occur everywhere: in malls, theaters, the workplace, etc. If you're going to put an armed security guard in every school, I guess we need one in every mall, theatre, business establishment, and street corner too? Government and politicians and all the special interest groups need to just get out of the schools - take your political games somewhere else to make money. We don't want the bad guys and we don't want the good guys in the schools -- we want students, their families, and educators in the schools.
- In fact, we need less government in almost every regard. Less is more.
- We should find better ways to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. It's kind of difficult to tell them apart these days.
- Communities may wish to consider providing positive outlets and experiences for youth.
- Although vouchers quite obviously aren't the answer, the ongoing development of new and alternative educational systems and approaches appear necessary.
- Although medications and misdiagnosis quite obviously aren't the answer, the ongoing development of new and alternative mental health systems and approaches (positive psychology, Schools Without Failure, democratic approaches, humanistic approaches, ARWOL, and more) appear necessary.
- Appropriate mental health care for children must become available. The key word is "appropriate" - not just meds.
- Read, then sign the Petition for DSM Reform.
- American education [and the other] institutions may wish to examine and consider moving toward and/or incorporating effective strategies and approaches from certain European, Scandinavian, or Japanese systems. We don't have it figured out yet and these are systems which have been proven over a long period of time to work.
- There may be more benefits to school uniforms than have been previously thought. Uniforms might help provide a sense of positive identity.
- If/when a student is identified as "at risk," society (including schools) is morally and ethically bound to do something about it (something more than just giving him a sad face, expelling, sending the student off to the pen, yelling at him, making him stand in the hallway, sending him to anger management class and placing him on meds).
- Allowing every adolescent to perform two years of community service may be highly beneficial to both the individual and society (much research has suggested that helping others is the single most mentally healthy thing a person can do).
- Educators and interventionists must continue to be held responsible to teach and provide appropriate services (i.e., their own behavior), but cannot be held accountable for the choices of others [this is a basic precept of reality orientation, a precept which is at risk in modern political views which seem to want to hold teachers/therapists responsible for the learning/behavior of others]. In other words, NCLB has removed all responsibility from students and placed all the "blame" on the teachers and other professional educators.
- It's time to get rid of just about everything related to NCLB.
- Move away from present "failure-based" systems and strive toward "success-based" strategies.
- Recognize that males are the minority in many domains.
- Learn to recognize stereotyping and discrimination against males (for some barbaric reason, called "reverse discrimination").
- Remember that gender equity, civil rights, equal rights, and equal opportunity apply to males also.
- Quit ritualistically mutilating male genitalia at birth.
- Recognize that emotional and verbal abuse is, or can be, just as hurtful as physical abuse.
- Recognize and accept that much research (and the humanity) states punishment does not work. There are a million other ways to work with humans rather than always taking the "hard line." Punishment usually just makes the human angrier.
- Less hate would be great.
- Closely examine the role of sports in society (e.g., favorable treatment for athletes, the message that "nice guys finish last," etc.).
- It's time to quit just talking about it and seriously address mental health in the community (it's not just the therapist's job -- it's everyone's job).
- It's time to quit just talking about it and seriously address mental health in the schools (it's not just the school psychologist's job -- it's everyone's job).
- Understand that schools are an artificial and invented [institutional] setting -- try to make schools more closely resemble real life.
- Incorporate phenomenological approaches into standard practice (i.e., listen to the child's perception of the problem [i.e., listen to the child!]).
- Quit spending all your time yelling at the kids.
- In professional practices, do more than just a classroom behavioral observation -- complete a social analysis of the class, school, community, state, and nation.
- Know and heed warning signs.
- Offer support for all humans.
- Quit psychologically victimizing children.
- Analyze the effectiveness of your bully program. Some can help but often these programs merely create new bullies and new victims.
- Decide to what extent your school is identifying winners and losers.
- Adults must positively and meaningfully connect with children, whether at home, school, or in the community.
- Realize the impact of grades and recognize how often grades are completely invalid.
- Realize the many diverse patterns of human response possible when one is identified as a "loser."
- Realize that humans hold a basic human right to react to his or her fears based on his or her perceptions.
- Realize how humans will always react to the misuse of power, hypocrisy, greed...
- Understand that if children are angry, there is almost alway a cause of that anger.
- We must understand the basic concepts of evolution and revolution. We are stuck in a slow evolutionary process where it takes months or years for even the slightest change to occur but we need dramatic changes (that's revolution). A peaceful and loving, nonviolent revolution of course.
- We must somehow start separating the concepts of education and indoctrination. The Feds have mandated schools to indoctrinate students... don't blame the teachers.
- Educators need increased professional freedom (not increased security) to effectively teach children.
- Always drive politely, calmly, and under control.
- Social institutions must realize they can no longer take seven to ten years to implement even the simplest change; dramatic changes must occur now if institutions hope to be able to keep up with, and address, the issues related to the present revolution. All we have is now.
- Institutions must start meeting, or at least addressing, the needs of their clients.
- Society must somehow decide: either the genders are equal or they aren't. If they are, then dramatic changes need to occur. If they aren't, dramatic changes need to occur.
- Reduce nepotism in hiring and firing systems. Hire humans based on qualifications. Give people a fair chance.
- Use testing results for educational purposes -- not political, legal, or financial purposes.
- Use testing as the start, not the end.
- Realize that humans are much more than their test score.
- Realize that humans are much more than their IQ score.
- Realize that humans are much more than their diagnosis.
- Realize that most DSM diagnosis are invented and, although they may describe certain behaviors, they are not real conditions.
- Don't rely on mental health to resolve a non-mental health issue.
- Don't rely on medications to be a magic solution to any issue.
- Don't think that throwing everyone in the pen will resolve violence.
- Quit labeling children.
- Learn from Summerhill (allow and encourage democratic approaches, individual choice, and respect and dignity in education).
- Include all stakeholders in important decisions that may affect their lives.
- Include persons with a wide variety of views in the President's Task Force -- not just mental health and police.
- Quit inventing criminals to fund the prisons.
- As we strive for solutions and increased understanding, remember to "follow the money."
- Teach students how to live, not just make a living.
- Quit putting property rights ahead of human rights.
- Quit using the "expert" model (if you must use the expert model, realize the kids are the experts in their own lives).
- Establish Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for every student -- it's easy if students are responsible for their own learning... they can and should write their own plan. Then they can become more responsible and you wouldn't feel such a need to run around after them yelling and screaming at them to do their homework.
- Don't sell an arsenal of knives, brass knuckles, and clubs in every convenience store located within a mile of every school.
- Be a good family member.
- Remember there is physical bullying, but also verbal and emotional bullying.
- Realize that, by definition, if there exists a "John Wayne Syndrome," then there must also exist a "Jane Wayne Syndrome."
- Realize that Peter Pan was a hero.
- There is such a thing as "Frank Zappa High School" for a reason.
- Allow boys to show their feelings. Boys do have feelings, you know.
- Closely re-examine grading and homework policies, procedure, and purposes.
- Use grades as an incentive and as feedback, not as punishment.
- Use a "team approach" in interventions; include the child on the team.
- Companies, corporations, or other entities which produce violent video games, movies, music, or television programs may wish to exercise responsibility in their practices. So should journalists and the media. But I'm not blaming them -- everyone should be responsible in their practices.
- Censorship is not endorsed here; in fact, freedom of expression (rather than increased restrictions) is essential.
- Lawyers and judges may wish to make legal - not educational - decisions.
- Politicians may wish to make political - not educational - decisions.
- U.S. presidents should stay out of education.
- U.S. presidents should not use principles of religion to determine their educational goals.
- U.S. presidents should not use authoritarian means to obtain their political ends.
- In general, the role of authoritarianism should be considered. Everyone should read Escape from Freedom.
- Parents should spend quality time with their children.
- Students need to tell adults if another student has brought a weapon to school.
- Students need to arrive at the understanding that they will get out of education what they put into it.
- Remember that history repeats itself.
- When assigning any group or individual the role of "monster," find out who the "monster" is afraid of... find out who created the monster. Take these facts into account before determining it was merely a lone gunman.
- Remember that students learn at an amazing rate and they learn by watching and imitating adults.
- Remember everything, not just money, counts.
- Remember this isn't rocket science... just treating everyone with respect would go a long way.
- The roles and functions of marriage and other gender-biased social institutions should be re-examined.
- If the genders are equal, then both should sign up for Selective Service.
- Every college has Women's Studies. Maybe it's time for Men's Studies. Men count too.
- Remember that profiling and compiling lists of "potential shooters" doesn't work.
- Keep guns out of schools. We don't want bad guys with guns on campus shooting the good guys -- but we don't want good guys with guns on campus shooting bad guys either. We don't want anyone shooting anyone in the schools any more. Take your political and social problems and battles somewhere else to solve.
- Realize that you don't want a psychiatrist performing a test on you to determine if you're worthy to purchase a gun, possess a gun, or well, do anything. Take my word for it, you don't want to put psychiatrists in charge of that task.
- Um, all you need is love.
- Join VHEMT.
- Public schools in the USA should consider offering same-gender classrooms as a choice, with parent permission, under certain conditions. The ACLU no longer considers such classes as discriminatory.
- Ultimately, people need to be considered to be responsible for their actions. The person's political beliefs, religious beliefs, mental health status, doesn't matter. If the shooter shoots someone s/he is responsible, is to blame, and to be held accountable.
- Consider the death penalty for those convicted of murder. Such justice should be administered quickly. Of course, the criminal justice system will need to be completely overhauled so that there is more than a 50-50 level of certainty that the accused actually committed the crime.
And 1000's more...
Click here to send your letter to XP!
My teacher is always yelling at me and I'm always in
trouble. It seems i just can't ever do enough to make
her happy. She's trying to get me kicked out of class and school. It just makes me really mad.
No matter how hard you try, you and others like you
will never take my guns.
I'm a behaviorist. Behaviorists don't recognize or use
terms such as "love, togetherness, respect, and dignity.
Sorry, none of what you say applies to me.
All this talk about "respect and dignity" -- if you wouldjust get out of the way and let me do my job, this
problem would go away in a second. Let me administer
a little of my good old fashioned discipline. I'll expel the
bad kids. We need the paddle back in the schools, I'll
whack some sense into 'em.
Signed, "School Disciplinarian"
Dear School Disciplinarian,
I would really like to include you and all stake-
holders on my new task force, but only mental health,
law enforcement, and certain parent advocacy groups
have enough financial backing to be included. i hope you
None of this would be a problem if you just brought
prayer back to the schools.
Signed, "Community Pastor"
Dear Community Pastor,
Not to worry, everyone's praying more than ever.
I've looked and looked through all 134 pages of my
IEP paperwork for which I'm responsible and nowhere
can I find any reference to respect and dignity. Please
cite the passage in special education law that requires meto provide your respect and dignity.
Signed, "Special Education Teacher"
Dear Special Education Teacher,
I'm a clinical therapist. You just have to accept the
fact that every boy referred to me possesses ADHD and
requires medications and therapy.
Signed, "Clinical Therapist"
Dear Clinical Therapist,
That's a pretty amazing fact.
Love? Togetherness? Listening? Respect? I send
my kid to school to learn reading, writing, and math. He
knows how to defend himself from others -- I taught
him that. He doesn't respect you unless and until you
have earned it... that's how I taught him.
Yes, that's all fine and dandy, but respect and
dignity are against the law. Your job is to provide a free
and appropriate public education, not to provide respect
and dignity. Besides, issues such as this are best left to
the courts to decide.
Respect and dignity? Yeah, it sounds nice but get
with the real world here, eh? Two to five percent of the
students are criminals and it's my job to get the behind
bars ASAP. So stand aside...
None of this relates to me. I'm an RtI psychologist --
I'm too busy teaching reading and passing out M&Ms to
worry about all this stuff.
Signed, "RtI Psychologist"
Dear RtI Psychologist,
How much extra will I get paid if I treat students
with respect and dignity? If you want respect and
dignity, you're going to have to find some way to fund it.
Signed, "Union Representative"
Dear Union Representative,
You just don't understand. I don't have time for all
this touchy-feely respect and dignity you keep talking
about. I don't have time to look for the positives. if a
student doesn't do exactly as I say, he's to be removed
immediately. Already 150 out of the 300 kids I have
during the day are getting F's... if I couldn't kick out the
bad kids, I'd have a high percentage of kids failing my
class. Please spend some time rethinking this whole
respect and dignity talk and try to understand the real
world of education.
Signed, "General Education Teacher"
Dear General Education Teacher,
Have something to say? Go ahead! Click Here!
What Have You Become?
"I have become comfortably numb."
Roger Waters/David Gilmour, Pink Floyd
You Could Do Something TERRIFIC Right Now!
Read and Sign the Petition at MoveOn .org
Concealed Handguns Do Not Belong On College Campuses and K-12 Schools
"The extreme pro-gun movement continues to push their irrational and extremist agenda... Colleges in different states (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin) have now been forced in different ways to allow the carrying of firearms on their premises... Similarly, K-12 schools in several states are now being forced to allow staff (barely trained, non-law enforcement) to carry concealed weapons inside buildings..."
Rather than striving to [re]establish meaningful relationships with other humans, millions are demanding that mental health screenings and/or evaluations by psychiatrists occur.
Take XP's FREE Online Mental Health Screener to see if you can purchase a gun.
As long as there are so many violent killings in America, this page will unfortunately continue to exist and will no doubt need to be updated often. There is [too] much to write about, [too] many questions to ask, [too] many answers are needed.
As you may have noticed, I'm bringing back my very first ClassiX, "Boy With A Gun," first published by me on March 13th, 2001 in the then paper version of the KASP Gazette. For this work and others I was recognized as Region III's Outstanding School Psychologist (OSP) by CASP (California Association of School Psychologists). The original BWAG appeared online in the KOG (KASP Online Gazette). Later, after the Northern Illinois shooting, the work was extended and updated and was published as BWAG II. The present work is a combination of the original and the updated version, and also contains new content.
Please understand this is a work in progress and will probably never be fully completed (until shootings stop). Thank you for your patience.
Nothing in this work should be considered as blame toward anyone for anything or an avoidance of individual responsibility for any individual act. The author primarily and ultimately promotes and encourages [the human's choice to accept] individual responsibility, an act which is, in the end, associated with positive mental health. Yet, any individual's choices are based on his or her perceptions of reality. When children observe and take part [in their society], what are their perceptions? That is the question. What are their choices? That is the question.
The oriiginal BWAG was dedicated to who was then our #1 Boy With A Gun, George Bush. This BWAG edition is dedicated to Rick Perry.
Sources are many. Links and sources will be cited as the document is completed. If there is anything here which is incorrectly cited or referenced, please contact the author and corrections will be made.
Copyright disclaimer under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Nonprofit, educational, or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. Removal policy: if you own work(s) on the page and do not wish for it to be included, please contact me and it will be removed.
Page Updated: Thursday March 31st, 2016 @ 8:30 pm PST
XP Page Created: December, 2012
Original BWAG Created and Published: 2001