As adults, we can stop the next school shooter by investing in our kids’ relationships and investing in kids that are NOT our own.
Warner also counts his friends as shields who protected him from going down a different path, and I think it’s so important for parents to note: our kids don’t have to be the most popular and have a huge crowd of friends, but two or three good ones can be valuable beyond measure, and true life-savers for our kids. So, instead of grousing about running your kids and their friends around or making extra space in your home for multiple teens to hang out, EMBRACE those friendships as long as they are positive and healthy! Do whatever you can to nurture them.
Talking about his daughter’s tragic bullying and ultimate suicide, Warner himself underlines the importance of FRIENDSHIP, of RELATIONSHIP to stopping bullying, suicide, and potential school shooters, saying:
What about breaking the cycle of bullying, not just because it is the right thing to do — but because it will SAVE LIVES! Whether by preventing a shooting, or preventing a quiet suicide at home by a miserable and lonely teenager. We have to address this culture of bullying that says to kids YOU ARE DIFFERENT AND WORTHY OF MY CONTEMPT AND ABUSE! Where children gather around and make Instagram videos of people being bullied, rather than jumping into the fray and stopping it, as my childhood friend Ken Taylor did for me several times in Imlay City, Michigan. Where instead of teachers mocking the outcast, as happened so many times to me at the hands of miserable teachers, a teacher gives the student that extra encouragement, that extra challenge, that extra time, that extra recognition.
Finally he sends out a challenge to adults – ALL OF US, not just teachers, that none of us who care about the safety of our children at school can afford to ignore:
If you are serious about wanting to stop school shootings and violence, instead of protesting the NRA and ranting on Facebook, what about finding a worthwhile program for investing your time and attention to the kids in a local high school or junior high? Take whatever thing you are passionate about and find a way to connect to today’s kids about it. But make sure to watch out for the kid on the edge. The outcast needs more than ever to know that there is someone who cares about him. Someone who can help them build a self-narrative that has a path towards a success and a future.
Well done, Mr. Warner. Your words ring SO TRUE as we work towards a multi-pronged solution to the school shootings and the problem of teen suicide in our society. Thank you for speaking courageously about your daughter’s loss as well. I pray everyone who reads your words will TAKE ACTION, find that kid on the edge, and MAKE a difference. The problem is overwhelming, but the truth is, we CAN change our society, one child at a time.
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