Whose Child is Next?

Whose Child is Next?
Whose Child is Next?

How is it possible that nothing is being done to prevent school massacres? How can parents, teachers, community leaders and elected representatives sit on their hands while mayhem is being committed?  Our children are more at risk than ever before in the history of our great country.  Yet we allow these horrendous acts to continue without being outraged or driven to prevent it from happening.

90 % of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.  In most schools, teachers are told not to intervene.  “Let the children figure it out for themselves.” Students realize that adult help is ineffective and infrequent at best.  They try to fend for themselves but are often intimidated and too scared.  They would rather skip school than be harassed and victimized.  At least one out of 10 children drop out of school due to bullying, while about 56% have personally witnessed incidents of bullying at or near their schools.  There are too many shocking statistics which continue to multiply while the country engages in speculation about Governor Christie' s Bridgegate or why the Mayor of New York eats pizza with a fork and knife.

When tragedy strikes on a school campus, the usual myopic bystanders in the media advance their theory about gun violence to alleviate the symptoms instead of trying to understand the illness and find a cure.  The illness is bullying and not enough is being done to understand it and treat it.

What can actively be done to stop this?  Some so-called activists have begun programs – mainly to further their own political ambitions.  Physical bullying and verbal abuse begin in elementary school, tend to increase in middle school and taper off in high school.  Whether we admit it or not, 75% of school shooting incidents are caused by either bullying or a youngster with emotional or mental problems who is going untreated or properly monitored by parents or teachers. 

It’s an appalling situation which starts with name calling, followed by the destruction or disappearance of their property, harassment, physical and emotional abuse until the child cracks and either commits suicide or draws up a plan of defense. In order to identify at-risk children, I devised a children’s task force which I immediately sent to President Obama.  Several months later I received a reply which never answered my pleas.  An abbreviated version ran in Studio City Patch. I realize there are privacy issues which conflict with the plan of testing in order to identify at-risk students.  But something must be done.  There are children  being victimized, beaten up and tortured by other children.  Parents and teachers play a huge part in this violence by not speaking up, by remaining silent, by not intervening.  In the meantime, society is suffering in silence and tomorrow, next week or next month another poor little soul will find a way to get hold of firearms, carry it to school and exact vengeance on his enemies because nobody cared enough to stop him.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lucien Lacomb January 16, 2014 at 03:56 PM
Irene DeBlasio, You have an exceptional understanding of this tragedy. I have been more impressed with your ideas than those of any columnist in any media form. I wish someone would hire you and list your many suggestions for the betterment of society. Thank you, once again for showing your formidable talent and sharing it.
Irene DeBlasio January 16, 2014 at 04:33 PM
@LucienLacomb Celebrity culture gone wild seems to be more important to all our lawmakers instead of our children. Parties, expensive vacations, what Beyoncé has to say is far more pressing than setting a good example is for our families. People wonder why an invitation from the White House celebrating the First Lady's 50th birthday tells you to "Eat before you come"? Well, apparently this is going to be a dance party like Don Cornelius or Dick Clark presented on the early days of television in the 1950s. How quaint. It's a good thing that etiquette seems to be a thing of the past. I don't want to deny anything to the First Family but they seem to lead a more elite lifestyle than the socialites of last century, yet talk about equality constantly. There's a mixed message here. They don't walk the walk or talk the talk. Our elected representatives have stopped listening. They are doing nothing to protect our most valuable resource, our children. They only seem to know how to throw money at problems. Thank you for the flattering comment.
William Bauer January 16, 2014 at 06:23 PM
I am amazed at the apathy on the part of our legislators and even so many parents, teachers and school officials. Bullying is supposed to be settled among the the children, according to the adults .How can this be accomplished when so many adults act like children themselves? We punish a little boy for kissing a little girl on the hand, yet other "atrocities" go unnoticed. The root causes behind these acts of violence, bullying and shootings can be better served by focusing on the problem instead of saying:"Disarm everyone and the problem will go away." As a grandparent of a mentally challenged grandson I know what his parents went through and indirectly what I went through and , most importantly, what my grandson went through. They live about 15 miles from Newtown, CT. I was very glad to respond to this post.
Irene DeBlasio January 16, 2014 at 07:36 PM
@WilliamBauer Adam Lanza suffered from mental problems yet nobody was monitoring him -- his mother was away on vacation. As you may know, the abrupt cessation of psychotropic medication can sometimes trigger a psychotic break or delusional episode. Somebody should have been watching him. The school was located in a gun-free zone. They might as well have painted a target on it. I watched as Anderson Cooper spent at least one week there during the aftermath of that massacre keeping those poor families who lost their darling children on camera, milking the tragedy. They needed to grieve and rest in private. The real tragedy is that nobody cared enough about Adam Lanza to give him the medical attention, caring, love and support he needed so badly. This horrendous tragedy could have been avoided. He was acting out at his assumed enemy. The criminal or mentally disturbed mind doesn't rationalize about gun-free zones. Can you imagine anybody thinking to himself, "I've got to get rid of this rifle because I'm in a gun-free zone"? The zero-tolerance policy is ridiculous. Why remove a child from school for showing affection to a classmate or teacher? Each case is different -- there should never be a one-size-fits-all-policy about anything. Thanks, once again, for an excellent comment.
Lucien Lacomb January 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM
Do you know any details about the school shooting in New Mexico? It has not been widely covered for some reason.
Irene DeBlasio January 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM
@LucienLacomb The shooter is undergoing psychiatric evaluation and apparently was well-liked by classmates. There is speculation that he might have endured a type of bullying called psychological manipulation. If any information is available I'll update the story. Roswell, New Mexico is a ranching/farming area. The incident took place at the Middle School shortly after 8 AM as many students were preparing for P.E. The shooter opened fire with a shotgun (belonging to his parents) and hit two students, injuring them. He gave the shotgun to a teacher who asked him to hand it over. He is 11 or 12 years of age. In communities such as this, residents must protect themselves and their families. Because of the vast amount of space devoted to ranches and farms, they don't have the luxury of dialing 9-1-1 and expecting a timely response by police or fire department personnel. Arming themselves is essential. Learning how to use firearms is a must in these semi-remote areas of the country. Many thanks for revisiting this post.
Irene DeBlasio January 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Update on Roswell, New Mexico school shooting. The 12 year old shooter has undergone a psychiatric evaluation at a facility in Albuquerque and is being held for treatment. He was charged as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (all felonies). Classmates described him as affable but at times distant, a chubby kid who wore glasses and told jokes, a talented percussionist who talked a lot. The weapon was a .20-gauge shotgun taken from home in an instrument case. He apparently fired three random shots in the air and surrendered the shotgun to a teacher when asked to do so. One young victim remains in critical condition from wounds to his face and neck. The other victim, a girl, is in stable condition. Both remain hospitalized at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas.
Ruth Salvatierra January 18, 2014 at 06:33 PM
I was bullied when I was in school (1940-50-s but it was called teasing. Perhaps that fit the act then with reference to the severity. None-the-less it was very damaging to my psyche. I have been thinking about why has this reached a crisis point now. What I feel is that parenting, or the lack thereof....moral decay and the lack of respect for just about anything is mostly to blame. Manners are just about a thing of the past and so is respect for others rights or feelings. The fact that this is going to be a difficult thing to "cure" should not deter us from action NOW!!! We need to start somewhere, EVERYWHERE and I think it should start with not allowing teasing. One of the things that I taught my kinds was teasing was not acceptable.
Irene DeBlasio January 18, 2014 at 11:54 PM
@RuthSalvatierra You are so right. Bullying has reached epidemic proportions and the dropout rate at the high school level has skyrocketed. Parenting, or the lack of it is a huge problem. I believe a small percentage of school shooters crave the attention of their own parents and act out in order to be noticed, to make themselves important. Recently I spoke with a neighbor who claimed that as a child he attended private school where achieving excellence was the norm. When his parents divorced his mother sent him to public school and he encountered the opposite. Kids tried to outdo each other gang-banging, swearing, doing drugs and drinking. He was bullied and dropped out of school because he was so petrified. Now he's in his 40s and regrets having dropped out. He's enrolled in classes gather enough units to finally get his high school diploma. He says he's exhausted coming home from work and trying to be a caring father and husband but he's determined to reach this goal for himself and he's nearly there. You seem to have turned out very well despite your ordeal. Kids can be so cruel to other kids but without parental guidance they end up with a distorted picture of life. I appreciate hearing from readers like you who have opinions and are willing to share them. Blessings. I hope we can all take the action you speak about starting now.
Lucien Lacomb January 19, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Thank you for the update about the Roswell, New Mexico school shooting. You are so right to pursue your children's task force. The children need it. There are so many kids who would benefit from testing and tracking for mental illness. Thank you for championing their cause.
Irene DeBlasio January 19, 2014 at 08:14 PM
@LucienLacomb As you can tell by reading other posts on my blog I've been committed to this cause for a long time. Children don't vote so it seems nobody is watching out for them. There are so many threatening forces out there. The homeless children, foster kids, adopted children who face trauma along with threats from society including pedophiles, pornographers, abusive and toxic parents -- something more must be done to protect them. Children who suffer from mental and psychological illness and learning disabilities are suffering in silence. We must do something to help.


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