Locked and Loaded
“I finally understood what could drive kids to show up with guns and shoot up their schools.”
― Nenia Campbell, Freaky Freshman
If you want to look at all sides of the historical and current school shootings then don’t forget this side. Put yourself in the driver’s seat as a teenager who feels that there is no way out. There are no easy answers. Don’t think as an adult about how you would respond? You have to imagine the world through the eyes of a desperate teenager who feels helpless just like those who killed. I’m not condoning anything. Just don’t eliminate one of the sides of the problem or you’ll never achieve an accurate answer.
Imagine for a minute this scenario…..
Life as a 13 year-old rebellious but funny teen seemed to be pretty benign on the surface. Teenagers because of the developmental stage tend to be difficult stressors for kids and their parents. She had this incredible gift to make people laugh no matter the situation. Depression crept in and slowly started transforming her. Her vitality for life was very slowly disappearing and it never seemed to matter or to care to those she tried to reach out to. She had no animosity towards anyone. She hated that she had been unwanted. But everyone loved her because she was everyone’s favorite clown and friend.
What no one seemed to take notice of was that this clown was put into a closet behind the teacher’s desk and locked. The teacher always had hurtful things to say. She poked at this child like a pit bull chained to a tree and being taunted and whipped with sticks. Anytime that child spoke up she was hit again. Anytime she cried she was ridiculed and humiliated. When she talked about food she was glared at and venomous derogatory body image comments were slung at her. Every time she tried to fight back she got in even deeper trouble with the administration. No one ever listened because of a label. She wasn’t a bad kid. But now she didn’t know.
All she wanted was for someone to leave her alone and apologize for what had just happened over several months. Relief was nowhere in sight. She began thinking that if she (the teacher) wasn’t alive to torment her that she could hang with her friends and continue playing ball. But if she committed suicide she wouldn’t have to ever face another minute of this daily torture. She can’t speak of it all as the embarrassment of what she thinks she has allowed. And then her friend commits suicide and the seriousness and pain of what had just happened was brushed over like his life didn’t matter. She is rocked to her foundation.
I have lost my emotions
— Dylan Klebold
I hope death is like a dream state, I want to spend all my time there.
— Eric Harris
These two thunderclouds collide along with a mixture of other storms in her life. This marriage, of sorts, bred the perfect storm. Her inadequacies were put before her peers. She was taunted daily about how no one wanted her. Everything that she would never become. Statements about being a baby for crying when the words stung like bullets. She tried to tell and no one would listen. Or it was the southern way to handle this parenting situation..”She is the adult and you are the child. Tell her you’re sorry and give her respect!” She was literally and figuratively trapped and no one could hear her silent screams.
How could you not notice the fact that she cried blood tears from her forearms? How could you not notice the holes in the hallway and rooms? How could you not notice that she had deadly eating disorders that would almost take her life? How could you not notice the pain meds and all the sleeping and headaches that became part of daily life?
Now imagine for a minute that you were that child trapped with no help. You just wanted it to stop in whatever way possible. Leaving school wasn’t an option. How do you as a child attempt to rationalize a very impulsive yet very thought out plan to make it end? How do school shooters develop? There’s a very condensed scenario. Often times parents do not know what to look for. Wearing a mask is too easy to hide behind because no one really wants to know how we’re doing. “Fine.” seems to be the best generic answer that is acceptable on a daily basis.
You said that you didn’t see the “typical” warning signs. There is absolutely nothing “typical” about a teenager. They are independent and impulsive beings with their own fingerprints. It sounds more like you were blinded by your ignorance and politics to notice that this was happening right in front of you. You were the adults meant to protect these children and you turned the other way. Now you don’t like how they turned out. Five minutes of listening to a child full of tears that you never saw behind those screens of smiles and laughter could’ve saved lives…maybe your own.
“–What if the kids from Columbine were here today. What would you say to them?
–I wouldn’t say anything, I would listen to them, which nobody else did.”
Quote from Marilyn Manson in the documentary Bowling for Columbine.