Last week, our local schools, like most around the country, had a walk out to hold in memory, the victims of the latest school shooting in Florida. It was touching and inspiring to see so many of the younger generation having a voice and a purpose. Since then, there have been so many ideas being generated to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, including stricter gun laws, teachers carrying weapons and training for the kids on what to do if they see a shooter in their school. I have even read the multiple posts that support the thought of befriending the 'loners' in your school to prevent future shootings.
We didn't have school shootings when I was younger, but we did have a couple of bullies that went around the school with the sole purpose of harrassing other kids. They were mean and usually picked on people randomly...starting fights in the hallways, terrorizing the new kids at lunch and making all sorts of threatening remarks when the teacher was out of earshot. I can't imagine that if I were getting the advice that is being passed out today, that it would have been any use to me. "Robyn, why don't you sit with the bullies at lunch, be nice to them so they don't feel left out...befriend them. Then they will feel part of the group and not have the need to be mean to anyone anymore." Really?
Folks...there are sometimes just really crappy people in our world. They have had an unbeleivable rough go in their childhood, been abused, put on too much medication early on, ran with the wrong crowd from the get go...They sometimes become irreversibly harmed and to put all of this on our teens to fix by 'being nice' is a lot of pressure, not to mention kind of victim blaming. "If you would just be nice, this wouldn't happen" type of mentality. Gross.
I was in an abusive relationship once...the guy was an arse and came from a very dark and troubled past. No matter what I did or how I acted, he was still abusive. Go figure. During that time, I had a one misguided counselor that actually said, "maybe if you gave in a little bit, be nicer, he wouldn't be so harsh." What?
We don't have the power to make other people be nice. We don't have the power to magically erase someone's crappy chldhood with a smile or sitting next to them at lunch. We just don't. Nor do I want to teach my kids, especially my girls, that they have a part, in any way, in how someone else's abusive tendencies play out. It is just not your responsibility to try and 'fix' someone else or act in any different way in hopes they are not abusive towards you or your fellow students...in this case, with a gun.
So teens, of course be nice. But be nice to everyone. Not because you are afraid of what they might do, but because being nice is just the right thing to do. But please, don't buy into this idea that you are somehow inadvertently responsible for what is going on because you didn't sit with the school shooter at lunch. Don't believe that you can stop any of this by befriending someone that makes the hair on your arm stand straight when you walk by him. This is a much bigger problem than you or I. This isn't your fault and it is not your responsibility to prevent. Sometimes, like the counselor way back when in my life, adults are just misguided. Listen to your intuition about people and stay away from the ones that give you bad vibes. Keep doing what you are doing, because having us adults guilt you into thinking that you have the power to stop this by being nice is well...pretty darn ridiculous.