Everyone and their brother is spouting off about what could've been the issue that caused Adam Lanza to kill those at Sandy Hook Elementary and who or what is to blame. I have consciously stayed away from speculation in the news media and have not read a bunch of article about the incident. Usually I am all over this kind of stuff and I can't seem to get enough information, but this one, this one is different for me.
Why? My child has the ability to be the face of this tragedy. The trauma he experienced early in his life and the attachment issues that have sprung from abuse, neglect, and being shuffled through 10 different placements have broken him in a way that is beyond understanding. I walk with him daily through his issues, and I cannot even understand what it is like to walk in his shoes. Now, I must also mention that my son is not only dealing with behaviors that are labeled as Reactive Attachment Disorder but a slew of other mental health issues and brain damage that occurred from maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy (FAS or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). My child has the deck stacked against him. My child has a "grab bag full of crazy". I don't say that disrespectfully, I say that to make people understand that we never quite know which disorder is making it's way to the surface to control his thinking at any given time. He is a whirlwind of trauma and it pains me to think abouot the utrmoil he lives with daily in his mind. It is a hidden disability, the appears to be a kind and pleasant 17 year old in public. He appears to be able to function at a "typical" cognitive level, he cannot. There is not a connection of cause and effect with him. He doesn't understand that their are consequences of his actions. He acts mostly out of impulse without regard of the fallout. Without medication, mental health services and constant supervision he is not only a danger to himself but to others.
As I sit here and make him out to seemingly be a "monster" he is NOT. His mental health issues don't define him. When he is able to control himself and his impulses, he is a wonderfully pleasant, helpful and loving child. He is kind and compassionate at times. He engages in conversations and wants to be a part of the group. He is not a loner who prefers to stay on the outskirts, he enjoys being the center of attention. He is a joy. He loves his family.
I don't believe this answer is solely gun control. I am all for owning weapons if you choose, however, I don't believe assault weapons or semi-automatic weapons are necessary for anyone who is not on a battlefield. I also think each gun owner needs to be held responsible is their weapon is used to commit a crime by someone who had access to it. Proper gun ownership is key.
I don't believe that metal detectors or armed guards at schools are the answer either. This is not about schools only, it is about malls and movie theatres and any where else a large amount of people gather. I went to Jamaica in the 90s and everywhere I went there were armed guards outside of the building. Want to go to Burger King? There is a man holding the door with a automatic rifle. I don't think we need that kind of climate in our country. Besides, who is to say that man is mentally healthy himself and won't go bananas so day?
So what is the solution? My first thought is
BETTER and more AVAILABLE mental health services. People that are this
kind of crazy do not just "breakdown" one day and shoot up and
elementary school. There are indicator, there are signs. There is not
enough services and not nearly enough affordable care for people who are
struggling with mental illness. Too many families cannot get their
loved ones help or the stigma is just too great. We need to have frank and honest discussions about the mentally ill in our communities. We need to eliminate the barriers to people seeking help. We need compassion and kindness. We need understanding and patience. I would suggest that someone knew that this shooter was not stable from a young age. Adults may refuse care, adults may refuse medication, but if we start early and are offering coping mechanisms and appropriate therapy, perhaps the lifelong healing process is in forward motion before it hits a breaking point. Will it be enough is every case? Absolutely not, but there is still room for improvement.
I mourn for these families. I mourn for the young man who thought this was the answer. It may not be popular to say that I am sorry for the man who committed these crimes, but I am. Somehow, "we" as a community failed him. We failed the children. It is time to be honest about what we can do to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
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