So the bloodshed at VT is all we have collectively been hearing about on the news since Monday. Rightfully so, a horrific and tragic event that has sent families into mourning, and students/educators/parents into an odd mixture of fear, guilt, and sadness. I have watched the images, the interviews. I have read the timelines, the eye-witness accounts and the commentary. However, I wonder why the need for the public “Monday morning quarterbacking” of all of our nation’s media. I find it abhorrent that before the deceased were even publically named, television hosts were insinuating that the school had made the wrong choice by not going to lock down, by keeping campus open. Hindsight is 20/20 and during the initial period of grief and fear, it is completely inappropriate. I was so pleased with the articulate and thoughtful VT students who, when speaking to Matt Lauer, Anderson Cooper and the like, were quick to refrain from judgements against the schools decision-making process and quick to return the conversation to the positive aspects of the VT community. These students are the reason that VT will recover from this tragedy and once again thrive as a close-knit intellectual community.
My other thought in the midst of all of this is our response, particularly as educators and parents, to the warning signs exhibited by those who become school murderers. The media is clearly articulating that this particular murderer fit the tell-tale profile. A former professor of the shooter is now coming out to say that she had alerted officials and law enforcement to no avail. Again, doing some hindsight analysis, but how DO we as educators identify elements in our students that are beyond a “little odd”. Is it within our understanding or training to recognize when a student is beyond “different” and in the realm of “psychopath”. In an age where we are quick to label children for all sorts of disorders with all sorts of names (ADD, ADHD, ED, LD, BD, MR = IEP, LRE, 504 etc….)Are we reticent to admit to ourselves or our educational community that behavior that is anti-social can lead itself to that of violent? Are we fearful of labeling kids who demonstrate such behaviors for fear that we will further alienate their sensitive souls?
I do not have the answers, just merely the questions. At the end of this time to question, I shall continue to pray. For healing for the VT family, for patience and acceptance for those who which to judge the actions of the leadership, and for peace to the minds of troubled young men and women out there who see no other escape from their pain than to hurt others.
Peace of the Lord be always with you.