Are we reaching the point where we should consider holding adult care givers responsible for the actions of their offspring? 

We’ve all read about the most recent school shooting (yeah, I know … they all kind of run together, don’t they?) over in Texas. In this particular case, the narrative was completely upended on both sides of the gun discussion because 1) no assault-type weapons were used and 2) unsecured guns were taken by the shooter from the home of his NRA-supporting father. 

So, the hot air that otherwise would’ve been emanating from both sides was immediately cooled.

The father of the shooter said this week his son was also a victim in this mess, meaning that the son being prodded by bullies inside the school led to what happened. Bullying seems to be a common thread in almost all of these tragedies.

The thing is this — bullying isn’t a new thing. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that bullying has been around pretty much as long as kids have.

So what’s changed?

Because of social media, bullying now is now done almost 90 percent in stealth and is specifically targeted emotionally, not physically. That means most of the time inside schools teachers simply cannot see it, and unless other kids are inside the circle of the one being bullied, most of them can’t see it either. 

Time was when kids would get a belly full of someone thumping their ears, you’d have a fight between the involved parties and it was over. Heck, when I was in high school, the coaches would actually take the aggrieved parties, fit them with boxing gloves that could’ve doubled as pillows, and let them wail away on each other. In five minutes they were exhausted, their anger was too, and all moved on. 

Now because of the nature of the bullying, it seems it is invisibly internalized and keeps building until we have an explosion.

Over and over, it just seems something fundamental is missing in too many of these kids. I can’t help but wonder if there is a lack of understanding the basic premise of respect all around. Most of the time kids don’t give or understand respect because they have never been taught — or disciplined — to understand it.

Again, children who have learned what respect is don’t bully or steal — especially things like guns from their parents. The last thing respectful kids want to do is disrespect their parents. But maybe these young people don’t respect their parents.

Respect is something that has to be earned in any situation, even in parenting. Screaming at a kid demanding it accomplishes little to nothing — but consistent discipline that teaches real lessons combined with honest, sincere dialogue creates a child that simply doesn’t want to let their parents down, much less abuse their trust. 

In other words, it takes work, time, and consistency — just like parenting.

So we come back to what teachers call “the essential question” here: have children changed or has the raising of children changed?

I know this much: our schools cannot be expected to raise these children anymore. We’ve placed too much of that burden on them for too long. Teachers are tired, and too many good ones are bailing en masse because they are overloaded. 

Others aren’t lining up to fill those positions either — and then where are we?

Folks want to talk about more security, less entrances, metal detectors, etc., in our schools, and that’s all good. But maybe if we had more children with actively engaged and caring parents in their lives our schools would automatically become safer.

Let’s cut to the chase here — if you are going to be big enough to bring a child into this world then be big enough to raise it. Your child shouldn’t be society’s responsibility, and you shouldn’t expect a teacher, a school, or anyone else to raise it. 

You sire them, you raise them. Period. If you can’t handle that, do the rest of us a favor and don’t have them. 

If you can’t raise them, perhaps it’s time for the rest of us to start considering doing things like garnishing your tax returns to help offset the additional burden your basic lack of responsibility and accountability is placing on society. Take those funds and place them directly back into the schools and to the teachers who are now being asked to be surrogate parents. 

And if you can’t raise them right, if they choose to bully other kids or harm others in any way, perhaps it’s time you should help pay for the lessons you failed to teach them there, too.

Don’t like the sound of that? Then get up off of your La-Z-Boy and get busy. Figure out how to teach your children how to take pride in themselves, respect others, and become an example for other kids to follow.

Please, impress us. We dare you.  

A dog can only carry so many ticks, and we’ve got too many ticks out there happily attaching their spawn to any dog that comes along, especially our teachers and schools. Then when something goes wrong, they point fingers at every face they see — except the one in the mirror. That has to change or the dog will not survive.

The bottom line is simple — nothing is going to change inside our schools until we get brave and honest enough to change what is happening outside them.