In 2017 Jillian Peterson & James Densley began studying the life histories of mass shooters in the US for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Dept of Justice. They’ve built a database and analyzed every active shooter incident in the U.S. at a K-12 school since 1999 – the year of the Columbine High School Massacre. They’ve interviewed incarcerated perpetrators of school shootings and their families, students who planned a shooting but changed their minds, survivors and first responders, teachers and administrators. They’ve read media and social media, “manifestos,” suicide notes, trial transcripts, and medical records. Here is what they found:
“In every case, when a student had planned a shooting and changed their mind, it was because an adult reached out and made a connection that gave them hope.
School shootings are not an inevitable part of American life.
We can, and must, change our approach to preventing them.”
The TRAGIC EXPRESSION of unmet needs takes the broader look at the “bad kid” myth once and for all.
What’s wrong with these statements?
Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Kids should be seen and not heard.
They’ve got to learn.
Whether you are cringing or nodding along right now, these statements look at the surface behaviors with an unfair bias and even prejudice. So why are we okay with using these phrases that describe our children? Would we feel the same way if we said:
Spare the rod and spoil the elderly.
Europeans should be seen and not heard.
New Zealanders have got to learn.
In my TEDx talk, “The Rebellion is Here—We Created it, We Can Solve It,” I deconstruct the generational misconception that children, because of their youth and impressionability, should not be trusted. Subscribing to the belief that kids’ opinions should not be taken seriously leads to disconnection and a lack of trust between parent and child.
When we punish a kid for talking back, what we’re really saying is that their inner voice or feelings are irrelevant. And punishing surface behavior without addressing the source, the underlying unmet needs, often leads to what Dr. Thomas Gordon referred to as the Three R’s: Retaliation, Rebellion, and Resistance.
Do you want to build an environment where your child feels like they can tell you the truth 100% of the time? Do you want to teach them that they should never stand down in the face of prejudice, injustice—or even being told by an adult to do something they’re uncomfortable with?
Watch my TEDx talk for tips on how to communicate effectively and compassionately with your children, especially when they seem to be acting up. Let them know that they’re not “bad kids” for speaking up.
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.