Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

I've think I've reused that same headline several times in this blog unfortunately.  Today's mass shooting was at a Florida high school with several students reported killed and several reported injured.  It is still early in the process as they have just detained the shooter so more details will be forthcoming.

According to this Wikipedia page, it used to be pretty easy to catalog school century.  In the 1700s (the entire century) there was 1 school shooting in the US, in the 1800s (the entire century) there were 28 school shootings, in the 1900s (the entire century) there were 226 school shooting incidents; now, in the first 18 years of the 2000s, there have been 211 school shooting incidents.  And the deaths: in the 1700s, 1 death; in the 1800s, 24 deaths; in the 1900s, 254 deaths; in the 2000s; 290 killed not counting today's shooting.

Which begs the question, WTF is going on?  Obviously no one knows the answer to this or we would not have ever-increasing shootings each year.  Years ago everyone had guns, kids got guns for their birthdays and Christmas, teenagers drove to school with rifles hanging across the window in the back of their trucks, people carried guns--both concealed and not concealed, no permit required--and most everyone (at least in rural and semi rural areas) had rifles behind the front and back door of their homes.  Yet no one thought to shoot other people, least of all teenagers.  Now kids are taking guns to school and shooting at other kids a few times a month or more.

I have no more idea about the whys of this situation than anyone else but I can tell you that over the course of my lifetime (many decades) there have been some significant changes in society.  Two parent families used to be the norm, now they are the exception.  The number of kids at school with severe food allergies was zero all through my school days, now food allergies bad enough to kill someone are quite common.  It was almost unheard of for any kid at school to be mentally ill (back in the day people with mental illness would be locked away in institutions), now it is said that one in five kids are medicated for mental illness and kept in school.  Bullies have always been a fact of life but apparently kids are not encouraged to fight back against bullies (?? what I've heard from the grandkids).  Suicide in young teens has grown exponentially, often due to bullying.

Kids are online 24/7 which both encourages attention seeking and opens them up to online bullying.  Kids are also allowed to stay in the house all the time with their digital entertainment.  Years ago no kid wanted to stay inside (if you looked like you weren't busy, chores would be found for you to do plus there was one TV with three stations that everyone shared but which never go turned on before the evening news) it was the norm to be outside playing, fishing, or wandering around the neighborhood with your friends.  Back then, everyone had a friend group (kids had their school friends or neighbor kids to play with, the parents had their bowling league or bridge club, etc); I recently asked a young teenage nephew how many really good friends he had and he said none, he said this was pretty much the norm for his peers (??).  Apparently the "go outside and find someone to play with" has been superseded by play dates set up with appropriate children?

Even military recruiters are noticing that recruits are fatter, sicker, and more prone to injury these days which is probably related to their crappy diet and lack of exercise.

It's a sad situation all the way around.  After these shootings people call for stricter gun control and tighter background checks yet these kids who are doing the shootings wouldn't be subject to any of these things because they aren't the ones purchasing the guns.  And while I realize we can't go back in time, the splintering of the family, lack of expectations for kids to live up to, overwhelming influence of online social media, and other changing societal factors (can we please get universal healthcare that includes comprehensive mental health services???) need to be addressed.

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