I am posting for a second time today, something I have never done. But I have to get it off my chest, and I have to do it now. Because my heart is breaking and I have to do something. If you are looking to laugh, please don’t read on, because I’m not laughing today. In fact, I’m crying.
Today, there was a mass school stabbing at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, PA, a town not that far from where I lived and raised my children for five years. A quiet town where things like this don’t normally happen. A town like Newtown, Columbine, or Aurora. Or the multitude of towns where these events have happened. A town like I live in right now, and I’m sure you do too.
A young male, a 16 year-old sophomore, was walking down the hall stabbing kids. STABBING KIDS. Nineteen of them in fact. While we don’t know all the details yet, early reports say that he was a target of bullying. And even if he wasn’t, he clearly is mentally unstable.
I’m not writing this because I support gun control (although I do) or that I think principals should be carrying weapons (which I don’t). I’m writing this because I don’t know why we as parents are not screaming from the rafters that something needs to change. Common Core math doesn’t matter a lick if our kid is forever traumatized in an incident like this. Making the all-star travel soccer team doesn’t matter a bit if your kid knows their classmate got shot in their school. Whether or not your kid passed AP anything, well, what does it matter if your kid has post traumatic stress disorder from having to run out of the school doors for fear of her life.
Does this bother anyone else? What the hell is going on?
This is more than just making our schools physically safer. I think if we install metal detectors, incidents will start happening in school parking lots. I think we can put up bullet proof glass, and there will be more physical assaults. Put a safety officer in? Sure, as long as he is exactly where the incident is occurring before a kid hurts an entire classroom. In fact, there were two safety officers close by as this incident was unfolding. Did they help reduce the amount of victims, absolutely. But that is not what I want.
What do I want? I want to help kids. I want programs in place that help identify children who are at-risk for volatile behavior, starting early, like elementary school. I want school district task forces assigned to help bullying victims cope with what happened/is happening to them. I want mental health professionals to review files and incident reports. I want schools to stop worrying about their reputations and take ownership for what goes on inside their doors when bullying is concerned. No tolerance is a nice buzz word, but not when it isn’t universally applied.
And I want these things in every school. Now. I want them more than I want field trips or band or art, which are all extremely valuable things that I treasure and support. But nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important to me than my children’s safety. And if I can’t trust parents to either seek help or understand that their child has a problem, then I need someone else to do it. Because this can’t go on.
A beautiful friend of mine in Pittsburgh who knows people at this school said this: ” If only we could clearly see and know how to help those among us that are most damaged inside, before they unleash their pain on others.”
Yes. This is what we need to do. And we need to do it now.
We need our smartest leaders to help and our best teachers and administrators to come together. Because my kids go to school, and I don’t want to live in fear of what could happen to them. There is enough bad stuff in the world already. Going to school — what used to be the safest place for our children — should not be one of them.
Franklin Regional Senior High School has all my thoughts and prayers today. But I want to do more.
Who is with me? What can we do to make this stop?