First, I'd like to say my thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the VA Tech shootings. I have a feeling the shootings came as a shock to the family of the shooters as it did to everyone else, especially with everything they've said lately about the privacy issues and not informing the family about any of what is going on. I've seen other kids who are/were similar to what the descriptions of this guy have been. I can't help but think if only someone had reached out to him early on-freshman or sophomore year. One or two good friends can make a big difference. One of the guys I knew tried everything to fit in in high school, even becoming the quarterback, but ppl just won't let him get past his previous "geeky" image. I was somewhat friends with him but then moved away. I was told by other friends that he had attempted suicide the year after I moved. No really close friends and no one to talk to can cause teens and college students to internalize so much of what they are going through and think that they are the only ones. Some snap and act out against themselves and unfortunately in cases like Va Tech, they direct their anger at others in a twisted attempt to feel more in control of their social standing. I'm in no way justifying his actions, there is no justification for them, but like most others I can't help wondering, "what if". It's just that sometimes befriending an "outsider" can make a real difference for that person.
During all of the early news coverage of this incident, I was struck by how insistant people were that the school should have let everyone know sooner about the first incident. I think this is really a reflection of how saturated we've become with information and feel an entitlement to know everything "right now!" No one could have predicted that one early morning shooting would lead to the slaughter that took place 2 hours later. It's not fair to insist that they should have known.
And we've become so skewed in our preceptions of how long it takes to evaluate information that we can't stand to wait longer than a 30 second sound bite. At least, one parent has complained that it took until late in the evening to be told about her son's death. I know it must have been excruciating for her to sit and wait but there were 32 people to identify, at least some, probably many without any id on them (Understandably, personal belongs where scattered all over the building.) If he was on of the victims in a hallway it would be difficult to even figure out which class he was supposed to be in, which I'm guessing is how they figured out who some of the victims were. After he was identified then the school would have to pull of the family contact information which would have to be passed on to the local officials and then would in turn have to contact authorities in the family's city. Life is not an hour long crime drama.
All of that is so not what I intended to blog about when I started this post. Here's what I struck me as ironic while listening to the talking heads on Tuesday. One "expert" on campus crime rates was talking about all of the violent crimes and deaths that take place every year on college campuses and he said "We need to socialize our students." Why is this ironic? Those outside the homeschooling community might not find it that ironic but this is one of the main reoccuring assertions about the benefits of public school over homeschooling. "What about socialization?" This questions assumes that kids can only be socialized in a public school setting, while this guy was insisting on the need to socialize predominately public school students. Now I have to agree with him. As a society, over a fair short period of time, we've managed to devalue the role of families, reduce the value of women to sexual object (Look at the label of nearly any female recording artist and compare it to the cover of a male artist. Who's nude or nearly nude? Look at the clothing of male and female runway models. How many men do you see on the beach in a speedo? How many women/girls are in itty bitty bikinis? Women who dress conservatively are lampooned by make-over artists as not being sexy enough. And this thinking filters all they way down to clothing for toddlers. Sexy= female beauty and power.) and we've completely confused the role men should play in relationships and in society at large. How macho is too macho? How sensitive is too much? One group will complain if a man holds a door open and another will complain if he doesn't? I've been as guilty of this as anyone else. Add to this the increasing isolation of individuals and an increasing focus on self and predominate drive for personal satisfaction over any thoughts of the greater good within a family or society. It's no wonder that things have becoming so confused that few people know how to behave socially anymore.
Fortunately, as a homeschooler, I can counter some of these messages. I can "socialize" my children to treat themselves and others with respect and kindness regardless of their age or social background. Now, if only public schools and society could figure out how to answer the question "What about socialization?"