I was asked to write a post about the above topic. At first I was quite skeptical about writing about this topic since it is so controversial and their are many varying opinions. You know what they say, "opinions are like rear ends, everyone has one." After pondering it for awhile, I thought to myself. I have never run from speaking my mind or writing on a topic in 30 years. Why start now. This is an important topic. At the very least, a critical one. The purpose of this post is not to offer solutions. God knows there are droves of people doing that already and most have no clue. The truth is, this is no one single answer. There are many aspects to this problem, therefore, it will take many smaller solutions to solve it.
This post is more focused on awareness. Things over the years people have forgotten. Violence in our schools is increasing at an alarming rate. It will not stop unless the hard cold truth is looked at, and not political agendas. Like it or not, banning guns will not stop it. That statement may get me some hate mail but read on. No gun, no knife, no car, not one inanimate object takes an action on its own. People do. If you remove one, it will be replaced by another. There are many other lethal weapons besides guns. Some they can kill even more with a less degree of risk. Anyone who has ever served in the military knows this to be true.
I believe we need to focus on what we can control. NOT what we can't. For example. We have all heard of active shooters in schools using guns that were taken from a parent. These are legally registered weapons. Shouldn't the question be, why didn't that adult take the responsibility to properly store those weapons? A locked gun cabinet, a safe, keeping the ammunition in a separate locked box. Many states have laws regarding this. Are they followed? In many cases yes. In most cases no. Any gun owner has a RESPONSIBILITY. One that is even more paramount when there are younger adults in the household. Maybe that's a good way to start. We can control that. We clearly cannot control the amount of illegal guns that enter our country. We can decrease it, we will NEVER eliminate it. The criminal element will always find a way. A study in 2015 cited that approximately 2,000 illegal weapons cross the US-Mexico border each fay. That was in 2015. Imagine what it is now. Also, five out of six gun possessing felons did not purchase their guns legally. How many of those end up in the streets? Believe it people. Yes, better screening and tighter laws regarding training are a must. They will help. They will not solve the problem. That starts with responsibility. Everyone makes the same statements. "When I was growing up we didn't have these problems." That is true. The gun violence statistics over the past forty years proves that statement. The question is why, and of those reasons, what can we control. Let's ask some questions. Those that are older should be able to answer these.
Is there more stress on our youth today than when you were growing up?
Are there more things available to our youth then what you had?
Is the parental guidance the same as it was when you were growing up?
Did as many people own guns when you were growing up?
Were the rules in school stricter when you were growing up?
All great examples of the many questions to consider. Anyone that is older will answer YES to every question. Why, because it's true. In today's society, with the loss of many jobs, the competition is fierce. The stress placed on our youth from a young age has increased tremendously for many reasons. It's not really their fault. Many have developed physiological disorders for these reasons. Have they been properly prepared? Let's looked at a few examples.
I am not saying that anyone of these is the sole cause. Remember, this post is about awareness. However, let's look at these. It is a medical fact that a disturbed mind can cause people to do many things. One of those obsessions is a need for attention and outdo someone else. This is NOT a theory. It is a FACT.
Is it possible that so much news coverage is spent on these tragic events that a disturbed mind may want to outdo the other? Yes. If for no other reason than their mental disorder. However, the news serves a strong purpose. Awareness. More importantly, it makes people see what steps are taken which helps to make them feel safer. Can you eliminate the publicity? Of course not. Can you control it? Yes.
Social media. I have many social media platforms. The friend requests or attempts at contact I receive that are from individuals promoting what I consider inappropriate material and pornography is mind-boggling. It's a full- time job just to police these platforms. Sexual pictures, language, videos, and other materials sent via these sites are readily available. Not only on social media, but also via the internet. Look at the number of violent crimes that have been committed. When a review of that person's social media page is available and analyzed, the evidence of that event coming was there many times. That speaks to parents monitoring their children's online activity. Should laws banning, or at the least, a form of verification other than asking the question, "Are you over 18," be in place for many of these sites? Can we control this? YES. Do we? NO.
Sexual training. Over the years, the philosophy has changed from educating our youth that sex before marriage should not happen, okay, I will agree that's not realistic., has changed to promoting safe sex. This was done for many reasons. Teenage pregnancy was on the rise, sexually transmitted diseases were on the rise, acts of sexual violence were on the rise. Although a great intention, is it the right one? Did changing this approach fix the problem? NO. Society made an attempt to control a specific set of circumstances and failed. In some areas, they made it worse. Did we send the message that sex is okay, as long as it's safe? Again, just a questions, not an opinion. You choose for yourself.
Cell phones. Although a great way to keep in touch with our children, and with certain apps you can track where they are, could cell phones have more harm than good? Especially at very young ages? Everything comes with a price. That price is availability. Availability of information. Every type of information. Anyone can learn to do most anything on the internet. Here is a link to a research study done on this that will shock the hell out of you.
Much like their children, parents of teenagers now live in a world that is heavily influenced by digital devices and online platforms. Among parents of 13- to 17-year-olds, 94% own a desktop or laptop computer; 76% own a smartphone; 72% use Facebook; and 84% go online at least occasionally using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile handheld device. See if this data scares you.
AGE RANGE OF THIS STUDY WAS 13 - 17 YEARS OLD
61% - Parents that monitor which websites their child visits (What are the other 39% doing)
60% - Checked their teen's social media profile (the other 40% run free)
48% - Parents that look through their teen's phone call records or messages (the other 52% have no idea)
39% - Use parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teen's online activity (pretty sad)
16% - Used parental controls to restrict teen's cellphone use (there's a lot left over here)
14% - Used monitoring tools to track teen's location with his/her cellphone (I hope the other 86% dont get lost)
I think you can see these percentages can get better, and the ones listed are scary as hell. Can we control it? YES. Do we? NO.
Advancements in technology is a must for continued growth. The drawback comes when it is not used properly. It can lead to many opportunities before a younger mind can handle them. In today's world, and understandably, parents want their children to have it all. The best of everything. There is also peer pressure of "my friends have it, why can't I?" That also comes with a price. It's a great learning tool, but not intended to be used for primary social interactions. Remember the days when the road runner cartoon was considered violent when an anvil was dropped on his head? Look at the games our children can play now at extremely young ages. The violence you see on TV. WHAT MESSAGE ARE WE SENDING? Can we control it? YES. Do we? NO.
Lastly, parenting. I refuse to judge anyone. That's not my intent here. I am not in their shoes. We will focus on the facts only. First, it cost money to live and raise a family. The days of one parent working and the other staying home are gone for the vast majority of people. In fact, in many households both parents work full time, and one may be working a second part-time in order to make ends meet. No one should be deprived the "American Dream." But it comes with a price. Teenagers coming home to an empty house, or not coming home at all until they know their parents will be coming home. What are they doing? Who are they hanging out with? Many parents rely on a sitter. In many cases that person isn't much older than the children they are watching. We don't live in a world where families are ten minutes away anymore. People go to where the jobs are. In these case, are the children getting the proper guidance, or is the sitter on their cell phones? Can we control this? VERY DIFFICULT. We are all victims of a difficult, at best, economy. Unless people are willing to have less, this will not change. It will get worse. Our own countries financial history shows us that. For the most part, parents do what they believe is right. What they need to do for their families and survive. However, the facts are the facts. You don't have to like them, but you can't run from them either.
Let's summarize. This blog can go on for pages. WE HAVE A PROBLEM. A big one. One that is only going to get worse. There isn't the money to put police officers in every school in American. Teachers do not, and should not, in my opinion, be armed. Parents need to be more aware of what, where, and who their children are involved with. They need to be aware of their mental state of mind. They need to take better technological control.
Better screening needs to occur when a weapon is purchased. Including medical records backgrounds checks done at initial purchase, and at gun permit renewal periods. People holding a gun permit and are prescribed medicines for depression, or if anyone in their household is prescribed that type of medicine, the doctor should be mandated to report that. Their weapons should be taken, their permits suspended until the issue is resolved. If it's member of the family, the local police should be inspecting the weapons in the home to ensure the proper safety precautions for storage have been taken. Impose stricter regulations on Social Media and the Internet. They are many more interventions that can be done. However, this costs money. Money people, and the governing bodies do not have. All of this is a result of decades of not keeping up with it. It will take just as long to correct it. In the meantime, children die at schools. The increased rate of physiological problems in our teens and college-age students increases every year. Suicide rates for our youth is higher than ever. We are not spiraling upwards, we are spirally downwards, and at a rapid rate.
In closing. keep in mind this post is about awareness. I attempted to cover the keys points. However, there are many more. The first step in solving any problem is taking responsibility for it. Once that is done, never forget this statement because it is a fact"
"The things we can't control are a result of the things we could control and didn't. We can only influence the things we can control. Once we have succeeded, the uncontrollable will fall back into place."
- Caesar Rondina -
Thank you. Please share this post and feel free to leave a comment below. Follow me on Facebook - Caesar Rondina Author, Twitter - @caesarrondina, Instagram - caesarrondinaauthor. ... CJR