I was working on a blog post this weekend in which I planned to do something lighter, more upbeat and encouraging about our fight against bullying. Then it was Monday. I got home from the dentist, feeling horrible. My fibromyalgia was hurting terribly, I had a million things to do for both of my schools, a house to clean, trash to get out and a blog post to finish. While changing my clothes and getting prepared to tackle all of these tasks I turned on the tv.
One of the roles I fill in my school system is being a member of the “Flight Team”. Our team provides crisis response to the schools in our county in case of a tragedy at one of our schools. So far we have been very lucky. We have had student and staff deaths from illness and accident, but thankfully no school shootings. On Thursday of this week, the team will be welcoming some new members with a workshop on how our team operates and a review of some of the flight teams we have activated and what we have learned from them. I know as we prepare our new flight team members Monday’s tragedy in Chardon, Ohio will be on all of our minds.
Chardon is a beautiful little town. It’s claim to fame is being the “Home of the Geauga County Maple Festival”. Looking at its website, you will be reminded of a quaint turn of the century town right out of The Music Man.
“The City of Chardon prides itself on offering a serene and peaceful atmosphere with the conveniences of modern amenities, making it a desirable community for both residents and visitors.”
Unfortunately, this lovely place in the heart of our country was forever marred Monday. It will now always be associated with a school shooting. Like Columbine and Lancaster before them, Chardon will grieve as a community whose children have lost their innocence.
The suspected shooter was identified by a fellow student who saw the incident. He told ABC news that the alleged shooter was an outcast and bullied. The young man’s Facebook page read: ”He longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet. Die, all of you.”
Parents are shocked when I tell them to only allow their children internet access when they are present. They see no reason for their children not to have a social networking site, or why they should have access to it. Principals bristle when I tell them that all school have bullying and that it is not normal and cannot be tolerated. Many people, find it hard to believe that bullying could lead to anything so tragic as a school shooting.
I urge you to listen to the children in your life. Be they your own or your students. Do not tolerate bullying. Do not ignore the needs of the victim. Err on the side of caution and monitor children who are going through multiple traumas.
Cheri Lovre of the Crisis Management Institute assisted in the aftermath of Colmbine, Lancaster, Hurricane Katrina and many other tragedies. She trained our Flight Team and has many wonderful handouts for parents and staff to assist in speaking with students who will inevitably have questions about Mondays shootings. You may find her on the web at: http://www.cmionline.org/home/cmi_1330402766132/page_880?utm_source=For+Parents+-+Talking+With+Your+Children+After+School+Shootings&utm_campaign=ParentGuideSchlShootings&utm_medium=email