Letter to the Editor

Gun at school raises issues

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dear editor:

After reviewing the report and comments of a 10-year old bringing a gun to school, I have really wondered what has happened to society? We are in a crucial time where children are killing children, and we still have the ability to teach them proper restrictions. Instead of using problem-solving techniques, the mob mentality takes over (for both sides) and fingers are then pointed. Where does liability lie, I ask? How do we solve this problem?

The question should not be, "Does this 10 year old know right from wrong?" The answer is yes, that is if the child has proper mental development, compared to that of his/her peers. The developmental process of a 10-year-old relies heavily on their ability for self-control. The very foundation of self-control is modeled and taught by the parents, guardians, family members, and any other adult that actively participates in a child's life, in their early years (3-5). Is this child able to maintain self-control? For this to be learned, children need to know what their boundaries are; the cause and effect of their actions, as well as the consequences (positive or negative) for their behavior.

This all comes back to "parenting." A child should be held accountable for their actions, and consequences should be directly applied firmly by the parents, based on the child's actions. The parents, however, should be held accountable for their mistakes that may have led to or caused harm to the child. In this situation, regardless if it was mom or dad's fault, the parents should be held accountable for their "part" in their child's actions. Their part was leaving a weapon within a child's reach.

Most importantly, this situation DOES directly affect members of the community. The way that the parents, community, and school district choose to handle this situation will directly affect every child that has been exposed to this tragedy. (It is tragic that a ten-year-old was capable of retrieving a weapon.) How this child is dealt with will determine how other children choose to behave, their vision of accountability, and simulates the consequences that they themselves could face, if they were to make the same mistake.

A community should support each other in a positive manner. We all must work together to keep each other, and our children, safe. This implies that we all share some responsibility for the emotional and mental stability of our children. We should all distribute support, and at times, tough-love to one another. Tough-love is the ability to firmly discipline for making a mistake, to a semi-harsh degree, which should represent appropriate socially-acceptable behavior. Even if some people think a punishment is not necessary, the chosen outcome will forever reflect on the communities standards on what they consider to be acceptable behavior. As a community, we should all think of a way to enforce consequences for the actions of this child, and the parents; that is, without persecuting them.

Some facts on Children and Guns (Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 2008), can be found at: http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/issues/?page=kids#1

It shouldn't take a school shooting or an inner-city neighborhood shooting to make us realize that American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States.

In the United States, young children die or are badly injured because their parents or other gun owners don't store their firearms properly, and children find loaded guns and use them unintentionally on themselves or other children. Older children are more at risk from horseplay with available guns, while teenagers use guns for impulse suicides and for crime. All are vulnerable to getting caught in the crossfire from guns used in domestic violence and in crime. Meanwhile, the gun lobby opposes every common-sense measure to reduce the accessibility of firearms to kids, from Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws to the mandatory sale of trigger-locks or childproof, "personalized" guns.

Although the National Rifle Association (NRA) insists that the entertainment industry bears responsibility for exposing children to violent images, it refuses to accept responsibility for providing children with both the means and the ideology to hurt themselves and other people.

Crystal M. Meador