Saturday, 15 December 2012

An American Horror Story

The terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, yesterday, will have sent a shiver down the spines of parents and teachers alike, everywhere. It is another in a long line of school massacres which have plagued the United States in the last decade or so and raises immediate questions about American gun laws. In the UK, it leaves many of us grateful for the stringent laws we have in place. From my own experience, arriving in America and seeing airport security guards and police officers carrying guns, is something which scared me. You just don't see it over here and it struck me how these sights must have the exact opposite effect on young people who have grown up in a nation where guns are commonplace.

The events of yesterday left 20 children and 7 others dead. The time has come for Obama to step in and put a stop to these flagrantly relaxed gun laws. Not only that, but it raises questions in British schools as to how long it will be before there are similar problems here.

As a teacher, it is part of my job to keep an eye on the children in my care. Some of them are quiet, some of them are loud, but all of them are fragile. Growing up is hard and it's easy to become resentful in an environment where looks, clothes and generally 'fitting in' are deemed more important than anything else. One girl (who reminds me a bit of me when I was her age) is bullied badly simply because she isn't interested in sex, drugs and alcohol like other girls in her year group are. She's made to feel as though she's not normal when actually, she's one of the most normal kids I know. What happens if she felt unsupported at home too, or had less teachers looking out for her? What if she felt so miserable that she became resentful and bitter? What if she lived in a country where she could gain easy access to a gun and decided to silence her bullies once and for all? Kids pick on the weak and then, eventually, the weak get angry, once all the confidence and self-esteem has been drained from them.

We can only speculate why the gunman yesterday, who's being cautiously named as 20 year-old, Adam Lanza, chose to do what he did yesterday. He walked into an elementary school of children aged anywhere between three and eleven, and killed twenty of them. His actions and his choices can never be excused, even if they can be explained but it will never make up for the tragedy they caused. However, we must do more to ensure that disturbed children do not grow up to be disturbed adults and in doing so, we will water down the chances of people feeling so angry that they feel like they need to take such drastic action. Kids like the girl I describe above need support and love to ensure that she knows how normal she is.

No amount of analysis can dismiss just how horrific the events of yesterday were, and still are. However, there is time to make changes to prevent these monstrosities from happening again. Until such time, my thoughts go out to the victims and their families - no words can ever remove the pain they must be feeling.

Ban guns, ban bullets; love our children.

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