How Can We Possibly Understand??

The other day, a man walked into an Elementary School. He killed 20 children, and 6 adults (although some reports I have seen have said 7 adults). Apparently, he wanted to kill his mother… I don’t know that we will ever understand what would drive someone to do such a horrible thing! There are so many things about this that I don’t understand. I don’t think any of us do.

I have been trying not to watch too much coverage of this event, because it makes me too sad. As a preschool teacher, teaching children not much younger than the ones who died, and as a parent of a boy the same age as those who didn’t survive, this tragedy strikes way too close to home. This morning on facebook, I saw a picture with the photos, names, and ages of those children who were killed. I looked at the smiling faces of those children; they reminded me of several of my preschoolers, and of children in my son’s 2nd grade class. I can’t help but think of their families. I can’t even imagine what they must be going through! I can’t imagine walking into the house, seeing the Christmas tree with wrapped presents underneath for a child who is no longer there. I see pictures of people’s Elf on a Shelf, and think of how for some of these families, that may be yet another reminder of their children. I can’t imagine how they feel as they see reminders of the “holiday joy” everywhere they go. Joy will be hard for these families this year, and probably for a long time. I try to put myself in their shoes, and I can’t. I can’t even imagine how their lives have been turned upside down since Friday.

I have only seen the picture and story of one of the teachers who didn’t survive that day. It was a first grade teacher who allegedly hid her children in cupboards and closets. When the gunman came into her class, she told them the children were in the gym, and he shot her before moving on… I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but what an amazing story! She literally gave her life protecting the little ones!

I have been seeing articles and reports that the man had autism, personality disorders, and/or other mental illnesses. While I think that his mental illness is obvious by the very nature of what happened, I don’t appreciate autism specifically being “blamed” for what happened. Most people with autism can live mostly normal lives. They don’t go into schools and start shooting people up. While the man obviously had serious issues, let’s not blame autism for what happened! He obviously needed help, but let’s not blame his disorder for his senseless acts of killing!

This whole situation brings to mind a couple of questions. Please understand, I mean no disrespect to the school involved, the teachers, or the families. I just keep thinking about how this could have happened. How did the shooter continue to walk into classrooms after the shooting had begun? In our district, we practice “Lock Down Drills.” I wonder if the school involved in the shooting had such drills in place? As teachers, we practice what to do in Emergency situations so that if it were to ever happen, we are prepared. No one can say how we would really respond in an emergency situation, we only hope that we respond how we practiced. Maybe the school had an emergency procedure in place, but the reality of the situation caused other reactions… I don’t know. I am not going to blame anyone but the shooter for what happened. The reality is this: in the past, I thought lock down drills were silly. I did them because I had to. I now have a better appreciation for why we practice them.

I obviously am a bit emotional over this whole event. No words can really express the shock of what happened. I don’t think we (as a whole) will ever understand what could motivate anyone to kill children or adults. The right words might not come out as we all try to figure this whole thing out. Our hearts are breaking. We can feel for the families affected. We can feel for the other children at the school. The place that they thought was safe to go to every day, has now been tainted… what can anyone do about that? I hope they have counseling available for these children and families.

In the mean time, what I can do is pray. I am praying for the families of everyone affected. I am praying for the school. I am praying for the safety of my children, and the children in my classes. I hope none of them EVER have to deal with anything like this!

Here’s a great article I read about “Dealing With Grief“. It feels appropriate to share, as I am at a loss for the right words to say to express my questions, and my feelings on the tragedy that happened on Friday.


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