The afternoon of the, Valentine’s Day tragedy at, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many of us stepped in front of our televisions to see another school mass shooting unfold before our very eyes. Our hearts likely poured out into nothing. Bringing cold fingertips to my mouth, I stared hypnotically at the screen. In this quiet suburb of, Parkland, Florida, I saw each child soul afraid and in a trance. They ran away from what should be their safe haven. I asked myself, “Why…?”
As I slowed myself down to grasp this nightmare, a very clear and powerful thought came to mind. I thought, it partly starts at home and with our caretakers. Respectfully understanding every angle in the matter of school shootings and what contributes to them, one of the most important ones is the space we provide for our children before they go out into the world everyday. I do not have children but I do have nephews that I cherish. The innocence and sweetness in their eyes is worth more than gold. I can only imagine how hard it is as parents and guardians, today, to love their children endlessly and rear them in their best way possible. Can we survive and shift the new culture of social media and terror?
Painful Topics and Hot Collars
I’m not sure that it is possible for us to agree fully on one call to action. We are vastly different as human beings. The amount of differing minds and perspectives is incomprehensible. We may not be at that point just yet. In all honesty I cannot say right now if this is plausible or when it’ll be plausible. I can say, that at this time, there’s an array of opinions and sentiments. There’s background behind a multiple of these viewpoints as to why they’re important to us. Hence, why this makes for painful topics and getting hot under the collar.
If there’s 1 thing we can do, it’s not slam each other for our feelings or perspectives. The other day I found myself in a rising heated debate over this topic. We both took a deep breath and paused. We could all attempt to understand the other side and the facts provided from that side. In addition, we could do our part that supports our beliefs and values. We can be action and education. The moment we bash and try to get another to change their mind, we lose sight of what’s significant. There is corruption and misinformation out there which is frustrating. The best we can do is to understand each other and do our parts – However way that may be.
Survive Shift the New Culture of Social Media and Terror
We are living within a new culture. Life won’t be able to return to yesteryear. With technology quickly advancing, man must turnover just as fast. We do not have to be at the hands of these changes, though. Each of us can survive the times. We can shift the paradigm.
Households are not perfect by any means. Many children are without parents or caregivers. Some, have an adult(s) in their lives that are deficient in their own minds and lives. Parents are inundated with work/school relations. It’s impossible to regulate every circumstance and situation. While looking from this viewpoint I put together a compilation of ways we can provide for the best possible space for our youth before they walk out the door, today.
- Mental health is a strong reality for children. It truly attacks their minds and lives. As a child myself, that has lived with both anxiety and depression I can honestly say that understanding the warning signs as a parent or caretaker is vital for child growth and development. The sooner we recognize the signs and symptoms, the quicker we can communicate properly with them and help them through. By starting in the early years we can take preventative measures while the brain is still in its developmental stages. It can be frightening as a parental unit to face this. We may worry about where the funds would come from to take our children to the doctor. To answer, there are various and professional facilities that offer free or payment plan options for guidance.
- Have open conversations with our kids. By talking things through we not only aid our youth but we can aid ourselves as well. As adults we are constantly growing and learning. As we do so, we in turn help our children to grown and learn. Sharing our stories of what we experienced in our younger years or even what we experience to this day as adults, offers comfort and support. Select topics can feel taboo and we may accidentally fall into a category of judging them. But keeping the direct lines of interchange open with an open mind, breaks up barriers and softens the harsh lines we can have with teens.
- Limit social media access. UCLA performed a study in May 2016. It was shown that social media usage negatively effects the brains of teenagers between the ages of 13-18. Other studies have also been brought to light since, of its effect on both children and adults. Excerpt from UCLA’s study: “When the teens saw their own photos with a large number of likes, we saw activity across a wide variety of regions in the brain,” said lead author Lauren Sherman, a researcher in the brain mapping center and the UCLA branch of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles… A region that was especially active is a part of the striatum called the nucleus accumbens, which is part of the brain’s reward circuitry, she said. This reward circuitry is thought to be particularly sensitive during adolescence.” The impact and influence of social media on developing brains is astounding. Each day our youth looks countless difficulty in the eye. The struggles between making high marks, fitting in to social circles, and understanding themselves, is just a small dose of their lives. Social media has become one of the most influential tools that can have positive aspects but in minds that are newly building it can create unhealthy attitudes and mindsets. In a world where we live by the sword of social media, our spirits can also figuratively die by it.
- Form a consistent spiritual practice. Build mind, body, and soul with healthier choices. Nourish all these parts of ourselves. It doesn’t have to include going to a place of prayer and service unless we choose that and have flexibility each weekend. We can start small then big. However way feels comfortable, we can make our peaceful spiritual sanctuaries in our homes. An idea to try is to make gratitude jars where kids drop in a piece of paper with something they’re grateful for from that week, written on it (number unlimited). On the weekend we can meet with them and talk about what gave them gratefulness during the school week. We can ask them how they can ripple that out into the next week. We can address how those grateful feelings can be taken out into our communities too – Sharing a smile with a student they normally wouldn’t with, accepting someone new into their circle of friends, reaching out to those in need.
*In the event you are in need of speaking with a trusted professional or/and receiving immediate help, here are the following contact numbers. Contact information provided by, Mental Help:
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663