I had a long list of “to-do’s” this morning, but my plans have been thwarted by a local-turned-national news story; there has been a shooting at Chardon High School. Chardon is an idyllic town very near to our own. I have worked with families there, and have colleagues who teach there. I listened this morning as a local news team interviewed a mother whose son had texted her from the locked-down cafeteria. The panic rose like mercury in her voice until a sob escaped. I can’t fathom that intensity of distress. Nor can I wrap my mind around the horror of learning that my child had been shot and life-flighted to Metro, our trauma center…or the unimaginable, crushing shock of grief at hearing that my child had died.
As my mind spirals, I also wonder about the pain of learning that my child had entered the school this morning, taken a gun from his coat, and pulled the trigger.
Newscasters have repeatedly asked this morning if Chardon has installed metal detectors in order to protect the students. I suppose this is a fair question, as our human minds try to make sense of this tragedy. We try hard to find a breach of security that allowed danger in, so we can understand and prevent more damage. We woefully shake our heads, bemoaning the fact that schools are supposed to be a “safe harbor,” and a “sanctuary of learning.”
The reality is, though, that we’re searching for the wrong metal detectors.
We could, as a reaction to today’s events, install metal detectors at every door to every classroom in every school. However, we won’t be able to prevent the kind of wounds that are inflicted daily in our schools, neighborhoods and even our homes…the snide comments, the eye-rolling, the exclusion and bullying that leave lasting emotional and spiritual wounds. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, 88% of students in grades 7-12 report that they have witnessed online bullying and done nothing.
BUT…This means that 12% reacted, and did something or said something to stop the bullying. Knowing what teens risk when they stand up to their peers, this takes tremendous fortitude and bravery. It takes mettle.
And that’s the kind of mettle we need to detect, reinforce and encourage in our young people. We need to model it as well, so that our kids can see us standing up to those who are needlessly hurtful and show them how to build each other up. And, we need to demonstrate how to reconcile, find common ground, and form positive relationships that grow healthy communities.
To our friends in Chardon, we can’t rightly imagine…but we will pray for healing in your community as you work through this tragedy.
And we’ll pray that we have the mettle to change things for the better.
as always, your words are a gift
As always, Katie, you hit the nail on the head. My prayers are for the family and friends of the student who was killed and also for the family of the student who did the shooting. Hard to imagine what it must feel like to go to school being afraid of another student pulling a gun…
Thank you, Katie.
So well written. Thank you. Prayers of support for all of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.
Well said. My heart aches for the community. Praying for healing.
How well said………so scary…………….for all our children.
As a grandparent who is raising her grandchild and is a student at Chardon High School, you never think this is going to happen in your community, especially in Chardon, where we are so involved with our kids and media only comes here to report on snowfalls ,the answer isn’t metal detectors, too some point mettle yes, but our children are expected to grow up too fast, sports, music,and many other programs cut. What will it take to wake up the government…make our kids a priority…get them help…make school programs available…stop sending our money to help other kids in other countries…show us you CARE! Cause you don’t know what it feels like to stand in a cold parking lot wondering if your child is alive, hurt or dead like I did this morning. My grandson is fine physically, thank the lord, and will feel the aftermath of this event for some time as will all the kids, teachers and parents of Chardon High School and my heart goes out to the children who were shot, their parents and especially to the parents whose child died today. I am not only in shock and disbelief, hurt, relievedand grieving, but I am also angry…no child should experience such pain in thier young life that makes them do things as horrific as this…nor should I have to help my grandson through something like this at 15 yrs old. Help our kids, not only in Chardon, but in every state, in every town in our own backyard. Make them the priority. I also want to thank Chardon School District and teachers for thier quick response, reassurance, support and CARING to all of us parents, grandparents, family and friends who waited, most of us in fear and tears, to get our children this morning.
Donna, Thank you for sharing your heart here. I’m so thankful for your presence in your grandson’s life, and I pray for his healing as he recovers from the trauma of this morning. Blessings to you…may we all be so engaged with our community as you are!
I’m thankful that your grandchild was not hurt. I know the family of the boy who died and my heart is breaking for them. I have a 15-year old daughter who goes to high school in a nearby community. When I heard of the shootings, of course,I thought of her and what if this had happened at her school. Honestly, I couldn’t bear to think about it. As parents, grandparents, teachers, we need to talk to our children, to guide them through the sometimes very difficult teenage years so that they know that no matter how popular,athletic, smart or beautiful they believe they are or are not, they have someone who cares, someone who will listen, someone who values them. They need to learn to treat each other with kindness and respect. This has been a tragic event for everyone involved. I am praying that it does not happen again, especially this close to home. And I will be praying for you, your grandson and your community.
Katie – “Spot on” as my Marine general brother says! It is truly a heart issue just like all the rest of the sin that breaks us all and mars our broken world! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Amen to you, Ann Holmes, and to you, Katie: thanks for wll you have said. It needs to be repeated all over the country! God bless & save all the students!!
Thanks, Katy, for putting this tragedy into perspective. What a hard time for every parent and child involved.
I sit here on the other side of this . My son committed suicide after being bullied at school in January . I look at the letters he wrote and I could be the parent sitting here wondering why my child shot his classmates. The amount of pain inflicted upon these children by their peers and the helplessness they feel when they go to that dark place I can’t even put into words.
We are involved parents , we get into our kids business , we watch the social media pages and cell phone, we are involved with the school , we coach , we have rules, we check to make sure our children are where they say they arr, we teach manners and respect we did we go wrong ? Our child on the outside appeared to be a happy kid. When bullying issues came up we addressed it with the school several times to be told the issue was resolved .
I do not know what the answer is . I know this is not the last tragedy that we are going to see. I know my son is not the last child that will feel he has no other choice in order to get the pain to stop.
We do not respect each other as humans . It could be race, religion, sexual orientation, gun owners , dog owners , politics whatever . Our society does not fight fair , they say whatever they feel , there are no boundaries. Long gone is the day if you have nothing nice to say then say nothing.
I feel horrible for the families involved all of them . I feel sorry for the kids. I feel sorry for the child who felt he had no other choice.
Who has an answer ?
My heart is breaking as I read your post…and I know that my words can never, ever provide the comfort you need as you miss your son. I agree with you wholeheartedly…we are a society lacking in kindness and respect. Kids are afraid to stand up for others who are being bullied. It’s not an issue about “losing face” anymore…kids, like your precious son, are losing their lives. You are NOT to blame. I know…I’m just certain…that your son knew how much you loved him.
With prayers for peace~
Michele, I am so very sorry for the pain your son went through. I think this bullying problem needs to be addressed better and dealt with. I am not by any means justifying what this young man did today but one of my first thoughts was, “I wonder what the other kids put him through”. Like you, I feel sorry for and pray for all touched in any way by this horrible tragedy.
prayers to you all
Katie, thank you for these words!
Very well done. I have shared this with Front line Emergency responders in Colorado. I responded to a High School shooting in Colorado. It was a very sad day. Our hearts dropped in disbelif when we heard the tone drop. shots fired at platte canyon High School. I was on an engine and did not even go in. I cleaned the blood out of our ambulance in disbelief. I never touched a pt on that call. I transport people all the time. Most live but some die. Some are adults and some are children. Every life has a story. Of every call I have ever run none bothered me more then that fateful day at platte canyon high school. As I was getting ready to leave my firehouse today when I heard this tragic news. My heart dropped and all those memories returned. Then I reached out to a friend in Chardon who I knew from my school days in Chagrin. I hope this tragedy will help us all to realize these issues must be addressed. My heart goes out to everyone involved. It all starts with love. So remember to tell your kids you love them every day. Love goes a long way especially in a world where we are bombarded with media.
This says it all perfectly!
I came to read this from a friend of a friend on facebook and I am absolutely blown away by your insight, honesty and truth about this incident. Our society tends to focus on the wrong end of the problem. To quote Henry David Thoreau “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. ~ Walden. I am sharing this post as it is the most important aspect to focus on during this tragedy. We can all be more conscious of putting compassion out in the world instead of hate.
Thank you so much
I grew up in Cleveland and sometimes wish I was raising my kids in the wonderful community I grew up in. Two weeks ago we received a letter from my sons high school principal telling us of an arrest of a student with a hit list and a plan to bring pain to our kids. When my son came home I asked him about it. He had been friends with this boy a dew years ago and he said mom I don’t think I was on the list. So calmly like he was saying I don’t have any homework. They are prepared yearly for this kind of event and see angst filled posts via face book daily. He seemed numb. He explained to me that kids at school were so mean to this potential killer but that there were a few kids that were kind. They ate lunch with him and these kids had the kind of mettle you are talking about. They heard about his threats talked to each other and confided in a parent who wasn’t too busy to care. He went straight to the police and the student was arrested without incident. He will get the help that this shooter screamed out for on twitter and Facebook and was ignored. No one thinks it can happen to them. Metal detectors are the last line of defense. The first line is compassion respect and empathy. It is our job as parents to teach our children empathy.
Very true Katie.
Wonderful words Katie–this is what our young people need to hear! Thanks be to God that some are being Bold and taking a stand!
Thank you for this post, so well written, perfect. Kindness, respect, empthy & compassion we need to remind them, hug them daily, listen & talk. Thank you. So many prayers being sent to our neighbors in Chardon, our young people need our listening ears.
This is powerful, and true. Praying for those who know the truth to stand up for what is right and for those around them. As parents, teachers, and adults in these lives, I pray we can model love and kindness. It is a rare commodity.