Psalm 127:3 “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”
Almost two months ago the world experienced what is being called the second worst school shooting in U.S. history. A senseless act occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT where a gunman took the lives of others, including innocent children leaving the world to wonder, “Why?” My thoughts and prayers are with everyone.
Upon hearing the news I cried out loud “My god. CBS news special report on the elementary school shooting; 18 children killed. Who would want to harm innocent children?” Pray. The news later reported at least 26 were killed that included 20 children who were killed by a 20 year old young man that was the son of a school teacher.
I immediately began to pray out loud, “God, I lift in prayer every family connected to today’s tragedy. Jesus, comfort those who’ve lost loved ones. Be a fence around everyone.” Pray.
I couldn’t imagine how hard it was for any parent to have to lay their child to rest before they themselves took their last breath. Pray.
I expressed in anguish. My heart is so heavy. It breaks. Why would anyone want to take? The life of a precious gift God has given. Lord, although it is hard to understand. I know it is all in your hands. It’s still a heavy burden to bear. Please send healing, comfort, and strength for those hurting everywhere.
It affected me so badly I cried myself to sleep. I woke unable to get my mind off it. For days it disturbed me. I tried my best to not look at the news because I couldn’t take too much more sorrow. I tried my best to remain calm and silent. I didn’t know what to say. So I chose to be in constant prayer for the victims and families.
Yet something would not allow my mind to rest. I couldn’t remain quiet. I did my best. I kept my thoughts to myself. Until one day, the subject came up about children with disabilities, mental illness, and special needs. I had become fired up. I was not at ease.
It moved me so much that I couldn’t help but share my thoughts. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. While it goes off subject from what I normally talk about and in many ways do not pertain to an actual event, I believe it is relevant and truly necessary to explore given the wake of what we are dealing with as a nation when it involves children.
Sandy Hook was a devastating event. It took many lives of the innocent. But we still see common occurrences of events such as this. Which leads me to question how deep is the issue we seem to be missing.
I pondered on the issue of how we as a society seem to have lost focus on the importance of the role we play in children’s lives as teachers, counselors, school administrators and even parents when it comes to a child who, at no fault of his own loses direction. Failing to recognize we are the ones who, in some way, will contribute to their success.
I thought about how teachers and school officials deal with students that are at high risk for failure or violent behavior and seem to stereotype, stigmatize, and treat them differently because they do not fit in with society’s standards of normal. Ones I believe are most affected by social stigmas attached to mental illness and behavior.
Is it fair to pass judgment or cast them away because society deemed them irrevocable because they do not want to take the time to deal with them? Or should we go to great lengths to help them?
Why not contribute to their development in a way that does not make them feel isolated or different from others? Why place labels on them because they don’t meet the preconceived standard. Or because of whom they are and what they cannot control, even though they are people too? Isn’t this part of the reason some choose the profession as teacher, counselor, or school administrator that do?
Why the children? Unfortunately tragic events in schools like Columbine and now Sandy Hook stemmed from senseless acts, but we cannot control the actions of others. However, in a child’s early years, we are the ones who will influence their development. We are the ones who will contribute to their success. And if we’re not careful, we are the ones who will contribute to their failure at best.
My belief: The cycle of destruction begins when children at any age are ostracized, scrutinized, and treated unfairly. Who can potentially become the same individuals with the potential to commit unexplainable acts we see today. In most cases, all they want is attention and to be treated fairly. And sadly the type of attention they ultimately receive may not be the one they were looking for in the first place which will lead to destructive behaviors.
There’s too much aggression, which can lead to violence, suicide, drugs, and other problems that may result in the death of others. We cannot continue to become blind to or fail to acknowledge illicit behaviors in others. It cannot be ignored. We must help. So I ask again, “Why the children?”
Sadly injustice happens in some schools, not all, to children every day. Children need support. They need to feel safe, feel loved, and feel like they belong. Because we don’t know what’s going on in their homes or what they may be lacking which may cause them to behave as they do. We can’t see. There could be deeper issues which may be an indication of many things; abuse, family history of violence, family tension, or stress.
We must hear the silent cry of children that are reaching out for help and do all that we can to save them. Be alerted before their lives become death sentences. It is never in their best interest. To ignore warning signs simply based on fear or inconvenience. Nor is it appropriate to label them as “problematic” “crazy” or “psychotic” only to get rid of them. In other words, make them someone else problem, not ours. It’s like they don’t even stand a chance. My, how times have changed.
While I will never take away the significance of the role and responsibility parents play, schools are instrumental as well, to a child’s future. They have power to influence a child’s behavior.
I often hear people say. A lot of what’s going on in the world today with bullying, racism, and division has caused many to become so far removed from genuine concern for children. They say they too, are afraid. And have become socially subconscious instead of morally conscious. But I am still optimistic that it will change.
I’ve said this once and I will say it again, “God takes care of babies and fools.” He protects them even when we fail to. When children are disturbed or present with behavioral, emotional, or mental issues, it should not be taken lightly. Instead, the school should be a resource for the child when seeking help because oftentimes it may be an indication of something else. How can we help if we refuse to? Pay attention to signs and clues.
Believe it or not, the world may have taken God out of schools, but by his grace he still remains. God still uses people as the vessel to protect and guide his children. People like counselors and other school officials are there for that purpose.
While there may be times we as a people will fail miserably at setting the example. Aren’t we designed to serve as God’s instrument to help those in need? Again I ask, “Why the children?” Indeed.
The tragedy will be when you find yourself wondering, “What happened?” “How did we miss the opportunity?” When in fact, had just one person paid attention, instead of making an inappropriate assessment, a life may have been saved. “If only we had paid attention.”
We must pray for the families of children whose lives were lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy as well as other senseless violent acts that continue to occur daily. That a war be waged against violence to eliminate what’s becoming customary.
Remember, children are God’s gift. Treat them with kindness and love. Cherish them. Listen to what they say. Be mindful when something doesn’t sound right on any given day. God is love. Honor God. Be gentle as a dove. Be blessed! -JD
“God, bless the children. Please keep them safe from harm. Carry them safely in your arms. They are your heritage. A heritage of the Lord: “and the fruit of the womb is his reward” Psalm 127:3