Stop, Look, and Listen

On Monday of this week, there was another incident in which a teenage boy opened fire on his fellow classmates.  This time it was in Ohio.

When I was in high school, many of us drove our cars and trucks to school with shotguns in the back window.  Even though we did plenty of stupid things, I don’t remember a single time any of us thought about shooting-up the school.

The days of my childhood have vanished and proof of this is the steady diet of violence on TV.  The Saturday morning cartoons are no longer of the Mighty Mouse variety.  Video games have gone from Pac Man to realistic and graphic simulations of warfare, murder and violence.

By the time the  average child is 12, he has witnessed thousands of violent acts through the media.  Watching it on TV is not quite as bad as role playing it with video games.  The problem with the video games is that they captivate and engage the psyche of our children in acts of violence.

The Zur Institue reports that, Violence in the media, whether it is reflected in music, games, cartoons, T.V. shows or movies, desensitizes children to the effects of violence, legitimizes and glorifies violence and can increase aggressive behavior or, at the least, increases tolerance and acceptance of violent and abusive behavior. After seeing violence on T.V., cartoons, and playing violent games, violence offline seems “normal.

I have read different reports that address this issue.  I find the work of retired Lt. Col. David Grossman to be very interesting.  An insightful interview that focuses on this issue can be read by clicking here.

Let me share a few statistics about school shootings:

  • In about 75% of the cases, the shooter had told several people about his plans.
  • In half of these incidents, the shooter was encouraged by friends to carry out the attack.
  • A large per centage of the shooters had experienced bullying and harrassment.

Grossman, in another article, suggests that one of the best deterrents to this type of senseless violence, it to have a police presence in the schools.  This sounds like an endorsement of the School Resource Officers  we see  in schools today.

After reviewing the research, I believe the message at railroad crossings is one we need to take to heart:  Stop, Look, Listen.  Since most of these shooters speak about their planned assault for weeks and months ahead of the attack, parents and teachers need to take the time to stop what they are doing; look for the message below the surface; and, listen to the emotion.

The simple truth is, hurting people hurt people.  Our task, Jesus said,  is to love others the way that He has loved us (John 13:34-35).  Instad of giving a struggling teenager a piece of your mind, try something different–give him a piece of your heart.

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