My wife attended a work-offered active shooter training this year. My son started kindergarten where he learned a “lockdown drill” that prepares him for an active shooter. After learning of the shooting in Columbine High School I learned that my safety is my own responsibility. Now I write to help families stay safe and my most popular article so far is, “How to Prepare Your Family for an Active Shooter.”
America has a problem and it’s much bigger than most of us realize.
In my recent travels I’ve listened to playlists on Amazon Music. One artist I like is Carrie Underwood. I heard three of her songs on the road that helped me understand something about America. “Blown Away”, “Church Bells” and “Choctaw County Affair” are all Underwood songs that glorify killing.
I like all of these songs. I put them on my playlists. Carrie Underwood isn’t a violent person, but her songs are. I recognize she also sings “Something in the Water” and a phenomenal version of “How Great Thou Art.” So why does she sing these songs about murder? Because we as Americans like songs about murder.
America’s problem is us.
There is an ample supply of violence in American culture because we demand it. We listen to songs about murder. We play violent video games that reward killing and give high scores to high body counts. We watch TV shows and movies about killing and how to get away with it. We are a society becoming more and more unphased by death and violence.
In his book, Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) author Gavin de Becker writes; “Because the solution to violence in America is not more laws, more guns, more police, or more prisons. The solution to violence is acceptance of reality.” We need to understand that we are a violent nation. We can’t keep denying this fact. Once we accept it, we can embrace a culture change and start making America safer.
We dismiss mass shooters as isolated individuals with mental health problems or fault gun legislation because those are easier to understand than changing the mindset of a nation desensitized to killing. As a country we don’t want to address the skeleton in the closet that our purchasing and viewing habits are fueling a violent culture. We need to work together to minimize the influence of America’s violent culture on our future generations, our children.
If you look at the mass shooters in America you’ll find two commonalities. The first, that shooter was once a child. Second, that shooter had no regard for human life. At this point you may think that’s obvious and has no real bearing on the subject because there are many factors that impact the mind of a killer. While there numerous factors that influence a killer, sometimes the most simple elements are the most significant.
We, as parents, need to make sure we don’t raise the next generation of mass shooters in America.
My son’s preschool closed early one Friday in December of 2012. I picked him up and brought him home. He was asleep so I decided to turn on the news. As I watched I learned of a horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. I couldn’t help but be reminded of how my life changed once I heard the news of the shooting at Columbine High School.
I sat in silence as my emotions ranged from utter sadness to rage. How could someone do such a thing? They were only children! Where were this boy’s parents? I later learned that this shooter killed his mother before starting the elementary school attack.
As I dealt with the emotions of the situation I prayed for the families involved. I prayed that my son wouldn’t ever be harmed in a school shooting. Then my prayers took a turn. I became aware that my innocent son, sleeping a few feet away from a TV with horrific news, may one day need help. So I prayed again that if my child showed signs of violence that God would make me strong enough to get him the help he needs so that he’d not harm himself or someone else.
It’s hard to think that a once innocent child that smiled and cooed could one day turn into mass murderer. But they all start out that way. We as parents need to be vigilant in raising our kids so that they’ll be self-sufficient, peacemaking adults.
In the next part of the series I'll go over specific steps parents can take to help their children. For more information on keeping your family safe in public, consider The Secure Dad Newsletter.
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