With the latest, tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, the pundits have been going at it with solutions including gun control, more mental health services, increased safety measures in schools, and the list goes on. None of these ill-conceived ideas will work. My heart breaks for those families.
Having worked with troubled kids over 30 years in a variety of settings, the identification of the true problem comes from them. As they often state in response to being asked why they are struggling, “Life”. These kids are a product of the breakdown and decay of our society.
There are three consistent themes with these kids. No faith, no father, and no life skills.
The majority of these kids have never been introduced to any kind of faith, it doesn’t matter which one. Faith provides a foundation of hope that carries us through the trials of life, giving us solace in times of sorrow and grief, and the amazement of just how much life is a miracle. Guidance in life and hope is provided by faith, and when questions arise the answer can often be found in its foundation. But our society has chosen to wipe that out so successfully that kids now turn to media, and other misguided youth, for guidance and answers.
Very few of these kids have known their fathers, who usually abandon them in early childhood for a life of drug use or crime. Mothers then bring in a succession of males (not men) to replace the loss. This leaves kids with a cycle of short-term males, in and out of their lives, who expose them to abuses of their mother and them, substance abuse, frequent jail terms, and an introduction to violence. One after another these males imprint negative behavior on the souls of children. Occasionally, the “father” shows up late, wanting to play the earlier abandoned role. By this time the kid is pretty savvy, they understand the permanency of the forever lost bond that cannot be formed years later, and those bonds never develop.
While the missing father figure is a major component of the problem, mothers have been led to the delusion that they can fulfill their own lives with work and successfully fill their role as a mother, even if the father is missing. Kids notice this, they feel the mother’s distraction to other matters like work and inability to fill the father’s role, increasing their anger, frustration, and despair. The best society can do addressing this problem is pushing young girls towards education for workforce development, erode the significance of fathers in the family, both continuing the demise of the family unit that is already suffering so badly. In spite of all the propaganda being thrown at us, that father role is critical in the family unit, it cannot be replaced by a super mom, an alternate “partner”, or anything else. And kids feel this void.
Over the years the idea has been promoted that any group of people can come together and operate as a “family”. This misnomer ranges from “blended” families, to any adult partner, or subscribing to a faith that allows as many wives as a man wants. Kids know better, no matter how one designs a “family”, they know the pecking order of their importance.
A parent’s job is teaching their child life skills, activities, giving them needed guidance in meeting life’s challenges, and how to use those skills to navigate life. It can range from what to do about a bully, how to handle that failing grade or lost game, to learning a skill. Today, life skill training includes getting to a higher level on a video game, not having to face a person while hurling or receiving insults on social media, learning the most abhorrent interactions and behavior on television that centers around cruel interactions, sex, and self-indulgence, or just deciding one day they can change who they are into someone else while society is expected to accept it. Kids are given the impression now that the world owes them, their frustration increasing when it doesn’t come their way, are bombarded daily with climate change doomsday scenarios, that if we don’t do something now the earth will implode with too many people being the cause, all of this increasing their anxiety and self-doubts about the point of even living. No faith, no father, no life skills, where can a kid turn?
Violence, substance use, and suicide is where they turn. Their anger is the product of the societal mess we have created for them. While the focus is currently on guns, these kids know no limit on weapons and use knives, screwdrivers, scissors, their fists…these are the primary weapons kids use, truths that are never revealed in the news. Over time these kids are turning more to guns, it hasn’t been an issue of availability, it is the increasing rage that has driven them that far, as our society continues to rot. Perpetrators of these acts are products of our own societal decline.
Psychiatric treatment is a necessary medical model and should not be negated in its importance. There are children who do have mental disorders, requiring this type of intervention, but increasing mental health treatment will not change the fundamental problem of societal ills and decline or the effect it has on kids. Giving medication to a kid, or therapy for coping skills, when a kid lacks faith, fathers, and life skills is like giving a pill to a solider in the midst of battle to calm his nerves and cope better with being shot at. Yes, depression is often a result from chaotic lives, but these kids live in a war zone, a pill or other mental health service will not change that, or replace the foundations they needed from birth. Being consistently deprived of these foundations from the first day of life, the likelihood of later integration into their lives is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Their hope and belief in life is already damaged. This is why they turn to drugs or suicide. They have nothing to hang on to.
It must be stated that there are rare exceptions with some kids who successfully escape the bad card dealt to them at the beginning of their life. They are able to progress on to productive lives.
Everything stated above is a compilation of common words and experiences from these troubled kids. This is what they identify as their lot in life, the problems that provoke them to behave badly. Predicting which one will turn to more violent means in expressing their rage is very difficult, but there is increasing likelihood we will see more of this with time as our society continues to fail and maintain the trajectory of destruction. No amount of gun control, mental health services, or any other patchwork idea will fix this problem. Until we fix our society, and stop its decline, we will see more violence by kids.