Stay Away From Gossiping And Complaining

Complaining about students in the faculty room does nothing to support the educational environment. Once you find other teachers who enjoy complaining about students, it becomes much easier to get into a routine of complaining to each other. This then makes it easier for other teachers to join right in. What usually goes along with this is a great deal of talk about how the student’s lack of achievement or bullying and behavioral problems in the classroom are caused by outside circumstances such as family or the child’s intergenerational tendencies (e.g. “I had his father as a student and I am not surprised. He is just like him”). The problem is that you take the focus off of yourself and the things you can do to be part of the solution. Plus, if you’re badmouthing your students, and other teachers are feeding right into it, you will walk back into your classroom with a greater dislike and additional reasons for having a negative attitude toward those students.

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They Walk Amongst Us: A Reprint With An Additional Article On The Parkland Florida Shooting

Originally Published September 26, 2013

Tell me how we miss these people; enough already. Let’s start at the beginning: A general discharge from the Navy indicating eight to ten events of misconduct, a discharge that the system converted to an honorable discharge, arrested for shooting three bullets into a neighbors apartment, shot out three of his neighbors tires, admitted he had blackouts that were fueled by anger, identified by his father as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from involvement in 9-11 rescue attempts, a sweet and intelligent guy, but very aggressive, identified by a lay person at the Buddist Temple where he worshiped as someone who might kill himself one day. Well Aaron Alexis doesn’t have to kill himself, somebody did it for him. Security did it at The Washington Navy Yard. But, not before he went on a rampage and shot and killed 12 people and injured countless others both physically and emotionally.

They walk amongst us and we don’t even know it. But, we do know it! Take a look at the track record. Not only do we know it we ignore it. Aaron Alexis discharge from the Navy was commuted from a general discharge to an honorable discharge. He had up to ten counts of misconduct while in the Navy. Who makes these systemic changes? He was identified by friends and co-workers as aggressive, had swings in his personality, was potentially bi-polar, carried and used weapons, and had suicide ideation. Yet, it was reported that he as a civilian information technology contractor, he worked on the Navy and Marine Corps intranet and was given a security clearance classified as “secret.” He had a bogus common access card and gained entrance into the yard with a minimum security check. He was deviant and dysfunctional enough to smuggle weapons into the yard probably because his intranet security clearance gave him the full blown view of where to hide himself and his weapons. And, oh yes did I mention that he applied and was granted a license for these weapons like he was applying for a dog license.

I don’t understand it. I do understand it, but I don’t. I can give you the reason, but I can never excuse it. You see reasons have become excuses. We evade the excuse and call it a reason and in doing so we allow those who are dangerously mentally ill to walk amongst us and have their way with us. We remain politically correct at the risk of allowing someone with Aaron Alexis’s profile to walk into a Navy Yard, open fire and kill twelve people; people that he didn’t even know but that represented the dark world that he lived in. Oh, he had anger issues for sure, but no one will know who he was angry at. Political correctness will be the undoing of this country. The truth is something that we all think but rarely say for our own fear of judgment by others. But, if we don’t learn to understand that someone with Alexis’s profile is dangerous we will fear the judgment of others who accuse us of racial, political, psychological profiling. I love this quote by George Orwell; “The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it.” The truth is they walk amongst us and the question is who or what do you fear.


Nikolas Cruz

February 15, 2018

There have been many other school shooting since I originally published the article on Aaron Alexis seen above. I wrote this article because of my outrage that as a society we have plenty of information available to us about the danger of certain individuals, in fact more now than ever before; social media has taken care of that. With all that knowledge isn’t it time to reevaluate our stance on being politically correct and start taking a look at the social media footprint that these deviant minds leave for all to see. Now let’s take a look at Nikolas Cruz and The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre that occurred at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. One of the ten deadliest shootings in United States History; Seventeen students and teachers are now dead.

The teachers were warned in advance about Nikolas Cruz, he was placed in an alternative school and was ultimately expelled because of some undisclosed behavioral issues. I mean we don’t want to hurt this guys feeling by letting anyone know that he was thrown out of school for threatening teachers and students, deviance, violence, and for basically disrupting the lives of  anyone that told him NO! Or anyone that got in his way. He was not allowed to bring a backpack to school; for fear that he might be carrying concealed weapons. A former student said that he was found to have bullets in his backpack. He was also found to be abusive toward his ex-girlfriend and others.

Other Comments Made

“He seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

Some other students echoed that opinion when interviewed.

“Everyone predicted it,” one told WFOR-TV.

But police said they were not warned of any possible attack by Mr. Cruz. (How Come)

Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters: “We received no warnings. (Then why was he thrown out of school? Isn’t that enough of a warning that he is dangerous)

“Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

According to reports Mr. Cruz told the family he was staying home and that he did not want to go to school because it was Valentine’s Day.

In many instances people start to rant about doing more in terms of mental health awareness and I agree more has to be done but Cruz is not a mental health problem he is a behavioral problem who because of his look and his attitude people walked around him and teachers quaked in their boots at the thought of having him in their class. He is a young man who was never corrected as a child and became warped in his thinking believing that he could say and do anything he wanted.

How do you stop this madness? It’s not gun control and it’s not pouring more money into the mental health industry (Although that wouldn’t hurt). It starts well before a school shooting; it even starts before a child starts school. It starts with making a child understand the difference between right and wrong and that there are consequences for bad choices. In reality we have soft peddled and allowed kids to do and say whatever they want at a young age without some type of firm and fair discipline designed to help them develop consequential thinking and do a self evaluation before they act on their impulse.

Today kids feel good about themselves for no apparent reason with everything that the child does being recognized as AWESOME. Win-Win doesn’t exist somebody has to lose except my kid, and when he does the child can’t manage the disappointment and the parents are afraid that his or her self esteem will be damaged for a lifetime. We have to balance rules with compassion and make children understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

As a society we have to stop walking around behaviors that we believe are circumstantial and are caused by outside influences. I realize that many people were raised in less than ideal conditions and war and neglect have left a wake of people with PTSD and a variety of conditions that need help and treatment. I have no idea what kind of environment Nikolas Cruz was raised in or what his parents did to discipline him. I do know that Cruz’s actions were one of pure evil and were designed to inflict pain and suffering. He had a digital footprint that indicated that he was a danger to others. He apparently wasn’t a danger to himself because he didn’t commit suicide after the massacre as so many perpetrators do after a school or other shootings. His behavior frightened people enough so they backed down from him like a child having a tantrum and allowed him the freedom to say and do whatever he wanted.

It’s not gun control and it’s not mental illness it’s the acceptance of deviance at low levels that leads to a person like Cruz upping the ante and believing that he can get away with this kind of behavior without consequence. The proverb goes “It’s easier to build a boy than to mend a man.” Somebody dropped the ball in Cruz’s construction and left an individual that truly is unfix-able. He knew his life was over the minute he made the decision to massacre the students and the teachers at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School. How his life will end is up to a judge and jury now. It will end, but this is no consolation to the families who have to go on living without their children and their loved ones.

The Root Problem

Often, we observe behaviors in children and begin to label them as “lazy,” “unmotivated,” and “stubborn.” What we are observing are really only the symptoms of what is actually going on within the hearts and minds of our students. When we treat the symptoms with systemic consequences, we never really get to the root problem. Don’t get me wrong; bullies need consequences, but a balance needs to be struck between rules and regulations, compassion and understanding. Bullies need to be disciplined, but consequences alone won’t stop the bullying. As an example, we label kids as “lazy” all the time. In reality, laziness is really the manifestation of disrespect. It’s not that the kid won’t do things; he/she just won’t do them for you because of a poor relationship that has developed over time. Often, therapy is necessary to peek into the mind of this kid. But, if we take the time to form a relationship with the bully and stop dealing with the symptoms, we will be providing this kid with permanent help, not temporary relief, and will be setting him/ her on the path to lifelong success.

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Encroachment In a Relationship

Encroachment. That’s a football term, right? One team is offside and the referee throws the flag for a five yard penalty. That may be true, but in the world of bullying and relationships, it also has dramatic meaning, with penalties and consequences as well. Here is the definition: to take another’s possessions or rights gradually or stealthily, or to advance beyond proper or former limits. I have spoken about boundaries and limits before and how young children need to learn how to say, “Stop. Knock it off,” and slowly develop the courage to throw the flag and make the bully aware that they encroached on their space. As kids grow older, they enter into another world that involves boy/girl relationships and where problems with dating often occur. Our children need to learn at an early age that just because they like or are attracted to someone of the opposite/same sex, it doesn’t mean that they like or are attracted to them. A relationship between two parties grows out of a quality friendship first. For anyone to try and shoehorn themselves into a relationship that is unwanted is harassment, intimidation, and bullying. Teach your students now to throw the red flag if they believe someone is trying to encroach on their space.

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What Do People Fear The Most?

As our students move forward in life, their desire to have meaningful relationships with the opposite sex intensifies and dating becomes a real novelty. Discussions in high school, and even middle schools, are continually taking place about who is seeing whom, and who likes whom. Even people who are older and have been away from the dating seen for a while find this type of situation awkward, and at times, uncomfortable. Just take a look at two people who are in the initial stages of building a relationship. He/she seems to be the greatest. Get to know them, I mean really know them, and what they are really about. Get on the inside track, and the indecisiveness of whether or not to stay will cause such fear, that arguments will be more common than holding hands. Young daters, and by young I mean high school age ,are more prone to being harassed and intimidated in a relationship then ever before. They enter in and really don’t know how to get out. And, often when they try to get out, they are harassed with rumors and gossip flooding the school building, destroying a person’s reputation. What do people fear the most? Sadly, people fear each other, and the closer they get to someone, the more they fear them. At the high school level our students need to be taught the ins and outs of dating. But, more emphasis needs to be placed on reading someone’s motives and knowing how to make a graceful exit when necessary. Teenagers stay in abusive relationships for many reasons; low self-esteem is one of them. Teach your students that they have a choice and to stay firm when they decide to either stay in or get out. The divorce rate is already too high.

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