As a mother, it was heartbreaking to hear what had happened on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut. Like so many others across the world watching and waiting to find out what was unravelling, including the families of the children and staff at the elementary school, I was in shock.
Once the gunfire had come to an end, the loss was unbearable – 20 children, 6 and 7-year-olds, six school staff members, the gunman’s mother, and the gunman himself had all died. And for what and why? No one yet knows. So many questions and not many answers.
Every mass killing or massacre is horrendous, but to hear that such young children had been gunned down was frightening. My heart went out to all those children and their families. These are the moments you really thank god that your children are safe, the moments you want to hold them a little closer, a little longer.
All of these victims died before their time. Their lives were taken away before they got the chance to really live their life, both the children and adults who were killed. It’s not a way anyone should leave this world, especially children. One can’t even imagine what was racing through their minds those last few moments, it’s too sad and frightening to even fathom.
How do you move on from something like this? As a nation, a community, a friend, a family, a parent who has just lost their child? What can anyone of us say or do to help numb the pain? What does a mother or father do after finding out their child has been taken away from them in such a horrible way? How do you comfort yourselves or other children you have who made it out alive?
For all the children who were lucky to make it out of that hell, the children who were left behind, the ones who have to move on, the ones who will never forget and always remember – their childhood has been stolen, their innocence taken away. How can they move on? How can they be expected to go back to school, back to their normal routines? We can only hope and pray that they will not hate, that they will be strong through this trying time, that they will still have faith and hope that there is some good in this world.
So much speculation has been made as to why this happened, as to what could have been done to prevent this from happening. And as it usually does, it begins with the parents. In this case, the gunman’s parents were separated and he, Adam Lanza, was living with his mother.
Was this tragedy her fault? Should Lanza’s mother have seen the signs? Should she have recognized that something was wrong with her child? Should she have raised him better, disciplined him better? Maybe she shouldn’t have had guns so easily accessible?
Others have said that perhaps the gunman was a victim of mental illness. If this was true, why didn’t his mother get him the help he needed? Was he getting any help? No one knows, and the two people who could have answered these questions are gone.
If the gunman really did suffer from mental illness, he too was a victim. People who suffer from such illnesses like schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, multiple personality disorder, autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), the list goes on, their brains are hardwired differently from those who do not suffer from mental illness. It means they have “brain damage” or a “brain dysfunction.” Each part of our brain has a specific function, and when any of those areas are damaged, the brain can’t send out “normal” signals to the body. No amount of teaching responsibility or accountability, the differences between right and wrong, or disciplining your mentally ill child will repair that damage. These children need medical help, plain and simple.
That being said, mental illness is not a way out for people like Adam Lanza who took the lives of innocent people and children. Yes he may have had a mental illness, but he may not have had it. The facts, once found and revealed, will speak for themselves. Unfortunately, what happened, happened. There is nothing anyone can do to change that.
However, we can put a stop to it happening again to more innocent people somewhere else. Do gun laws need to change? Yes, I believe they do. Do families dealing with children with mental illness need help? Yes, they do. Do parents need to teach their children how to behave and discipline them accordingly? Yes, we all do. We can’t allow our children to get away with whatever they want. We have to teach them responsibility, we have to teach them how to be sensible individuals who understand that there are consequences for their actions.
It really doesn’t matter where you live on this planet, bad things do happen. It takes a good person with a strong heart and willful mind to try to learn from these bad situations, and use it to teach others to be better, to not follow in the same footsteps.
No one is perfect, be it parent or child. Everyone makes mistakes. We just have to pray that together, as a nation, that we can prevent tragedies such as the Sandy Hook massacre from happening again.
Here are a few links worth reading about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.
Below, Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, 6, one of the victims who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday, fights back tears as he describes his beautiful daughter, who always loved to try new things, except foods. Parker, was one of the first parents to publicly talk about his loss.