What Are We Responsible For ? Our Motives

Do you ever watch CSI (Crime Seen Investigation)? I do, occasionally. I am at amazed how all of the evidence that is collected can point directly at the suspect in question, but they just can’t seem to figure out a motive. They need the motive to convict the person of the crime. We all know what the motive of a bully is, right? Power. They want to have power and control over a smaller or weaker person. How do you change the motive of a bully? By being the strongest and most influential person in the classroom. That’s right, you, the teacher have this ability. You don’t need to use power; you need to use your influence. When your students realize that you are in charge their motives change from wanting to hurt others, to wanting to help. They have met their match. Remember, it is not about the influence of your power, but rather the power of your influence.

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What Are We Responsible For? Our Attitudes

The sources of the most painful offenses are not usually actions, but attitudes. People who offend others unintentionally are judged with less severity than those who intend to hurt. Even in law, the intent behind a crime is a factor in assessing the guilt of the one who stands before the judge. This is one area that is the most difficult to change in ourselves and in our students. We ask our students to do things all the time, and they should comply with our request. But really, it’s not as much about the compliance, but more about their attitude when they comply. Are they resentful and angry, and is it like pulling teeth to get them to cooperate with even the smallest task? Character is truly what a person does when no one is looking. A bully will always act when no one is looking. They will deny their hurtful actions and blame others for their behavior. Begin correcting the attitudes of your students; by doing so, you will prepare them for a better future. But, more importantly, you will help them to evaluate the intent of their actions.

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What Are We Responsible For? Our Actions

Actions do speak louder than words, for sure, if you follow the pattern, thoughts lead to words and words translate into action. That is unless, of course, you are a bag of wind and never follow through on anything you say. Kids, though, get placed on the battlefield of the bully/victim dynamic through their words, and get pressured into taking action. Of course, this all starts in their thoughts. The more that gets said, the more action has to be taken. Most of the time, these actions are taken out of impulse, leading to serious problems among bullies, victims, and other students who they are friends with, creating discipline problems for teachers, administration, and the school’s bullying specialist. Always keep your hand on the pulse of your classroom, and your school, and listen for threatening words that you know could lead to a bullying event. At this point, the child’s or teen’s thoughts have escaped the confines of his secret life and have now become public. STOP HIM NOW, before you have a bigger problem to deal with.

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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.