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My heart aches for all those affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Unfortunately, I have gone through this same horrible tragedy when I was a child so I know there are no words to make this better for anyone. During any tragedy, it seems to be human nature to look for a cause. That being said, Autism didn’t cause the Florida School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Nikolas Cruz did.
How do you know Autism Did Not Cause the Florida School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School?
Simply put, autism is a bio-neurological developmental disorder (click that link to learn more) that cause problems with social interactions and communications. Autism does not cause someone to pick up a gun and kill someone. What causes someone to take another persons life is an evil within them, not any medical diagnosis.
On Valentines Day 2018, I woke up to reports of a school shooting out of Florida. I instantly fell to my knees crying, as I do every time I hear this news. The overwhelming grief and fear I feel for those going through this horrific experience is directly from my own experience with a school shooting.
Autism didn’t cause the Florida School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
The Start to High School Shootings over the last 20 years
On October 1, 1997, Luke Woodham (a named burned into my brain forever) walked into Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi. Armed with a gun, he began shooting and killed Lydia Kaye Dew and Christina Menefee. Prior to this, he stabbed his mother to death before heading to the school.
I was in junior high at the time, in complete fear. You see, back then, school shootings weren’t a thing so we did not do intruder drills. All we knew was someeone had gone into the school and started shooting. In a small town, word travels fast, even while you’r in school.
My heart still hurts to this day, and the words I write can not explain what went through all of our heads that day. No words can describe the chaos and fear of those students in the room with Woodham when he decided to take lives.
Bullying causes School Shootings ( Simply Put, NO)
Look, I get it. All of the evil people who have decided to take lives of innocent students and staff have been bullied. Sure, Luke even blamed it in his letter before going on his shooting spree at Pearl High School that left two dead. This is what he even said:
I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back. … All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly blame me for what I do? Yes, you will. … It was not a cry for attention, it was not a cry for help. It was a scream in sheer agony saying that if you can’t pry your eyes open, if I can’t do it through pacifism, if I can’t show you through the displaying of intelligence, then I will do it with a bullet.
I was bullied relentless as a child. Not fitting in and being an autistic girl in the 90s without a diagnosis, it was inevitable. But never in my life have I though to go take others lives. That evil is not within me, nor is it within the majority of civilization (with our without an autism diagnosis).
Autism didn’t cause the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida, nor Pearl Mississippi, nor any other high school shooting. Bullying did not cause the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Nikolas Cruz caused the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida.
How do we stop School Shootings from Happening?
The cry of every parent, student and staff of each school shooting echos this statement. Every parent around the country, worrying that our children may one day face this. The fear of special needs parents of what will happen to their child if they get stuck in the middle of school shooting, all of us wanting to know how do we stop school shootings from happening.
The answer is not simple, but there are steps we need to make as a country and as parents. Autism Did Not Cause the Florida School Shooting, but something did. We cannot fully prevent school shootings, but we can make it less likely to happen:
1. Talk to you Children daily!
Look, all these shooters are saying because they were bullied. To be bullied so much that you think to kill other or yourself, does not come in one day. That is years of abuse to even think along those lines. You’re the parent, so get in their daily and talk to your child!
Find out who their friends are, do they have a best friend? Know their interests and be involved with those interest. Build that relationship that they need to confide in you if they are being bullied. If you notice something, act. You are the adult, so take charge and lead your child in the right direction.
2. Set Expectations!
Let your child know what you expect of them. Their actions, their grades, what they need to tell you know matter what. ” If someone is picking on you, tell me.” “If someone makes you uncomfortable in any way, tell me.” “If someone touches you in any way, tell me.” ” If you don’t know if you should tell me, then definitely tell me” “If someone tells you not to tell anyone, you tell me right away!” “If someone hurts you in any way, tell a trusted adult that is near and also tell me.”
You are the one raising your child. If you drop the ball on parenting, they will learn it else where and chances are it will not end good.
3. There needs to be an armed, trained adult at every school!
Yes, I said it. There needs to be more than just hiding in place drills. Every single school in this country, private or public, needs someone who is trained and armed with a gun at all times. Whether that be a school resource officer (a police officer with special training to work in schools), a principal, or even a janitor. Someone needs to be there to protect our children.
Police come as fast as they can and do an amazing job once they arrive on scene. However, the majority of the shooting has already happened and many lives lost in that 5 minute wait. If someone is there, whose sole purpose is to protect out children, many less lives would be lost. That is why I am so thankful for the school resource officers in our children’s schools!
There Ya Go!
There’s my impromptu post on the fact that Autism didn’t cause the Florida School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. (Yes, I cried most of this post) . If you want to learn more about autism, please check out the links below and make sure to sign up for our newsletters using that purple button below!
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Alicia Trautwein is an autism parenting coach living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families. She is one of the head creators behind the #WeLoeveMoms campaign and is also featured in the “Amazing Moms” coffee table book by Hogan Hilling & Dr. Elise Ho. She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism.