Dear Auntie A. My son will be entering into high school next fall and he is showing signs of anxiety concerning the latest rounds of school shootings. He has asked how he can be assured that he is safe while at school and these questions do not have easy answers. I have assured him that the likelihood that he will encounter such a tragedy is very slim but you and I both know that no-one can really predict that. How can I guide him through this uncharted territory in a society that appears to be growing closer to violence rather than peace and help him navigate his own way through school? Truthfully I am concerned myself and feel like home schooling might be the better option however he will be leaving eventually to university and I feel that now is my time to help him so that he can leave with confidence and excel as a young adult.
Auntie A : My heart hurts for all of us as parents in this day and time. Our society has much to be changed and held accountable for, especially with regards to our youth. Your son has good reasons that are legitimate to feel anxious and fearful as all of us have been affected by the prevalence in school killing grounds. He will need to weigh whether going to school is just too much emotionally and find a place where his focus is on education. If home schooling is an option I would encourage you to do that. He can find several rigorous programs that will challenge and prepare him for college certainly, however does that as you mentioned prolong the problem? What happens when he leaves for university? Will his fears and anxiety just come back again? I think the best course of action is to encourage him to attend where you have planned all along, and find a counselor that he can also share his feeling with. Make sure you two have a game plan for a safe place he will flee to in the event that God forbid he finds himself in a dangerous situation. Teach him how to cope with this world’s problems rather than hide in fear. Most importantly though counsel him that children that go off the deep end and find themselves so disconnected as to kill others is a slow process. They almost always show signs that they are in trouble before they grab weapons and start shooting their friends. Teach your son to look for that. If he sees a friend being bullied show him how to end that. If he realizes that a friend is too preoccupied with guns or violent video games ask him to share that with an adult. Mental illness is the root cause of this issue and identifying it and getting the person affected professional help will stop the killing. Now is your time to teach your son to be a leader and look to find a problem so he can help. This will empower him to move forward with his life and try to enjoy his education.