PARENTS/TEACHERS/COUNSELORS/COACHES/MENTORS: If you parent/mentor/teach a man-child who is a loner, spends hours playing video games, watches hours of violent television/movies, suffers from manic depression, is bullied, is fascinated by weapons (guns, knives, etc.), doesn't talk to you or anyone, spends hours developing his on-screen persona, THREATENS TO TAKE HIS LIFE OR OTHERS ---THESE ARE RED FLAGS. I'm not saying every young man who fits the descriptions above is a killer in training, but I am saying THOSE ARE SIGNS. If my son suddenly had trouble breathing, that's a sign something is wrong. I'm not waiting to see if something else goes wrong with him, all I need is ONE SIGN and I am investigating with all of the power my body and mind possesses. We will miss signs. We're human. But when the signs are FLASHING in our eyes, blinding us, how can we continue to ignore them?
WE DON'T NEED LEGISLATION TO FIGURE OUT OUR YOUNG MEN ARE DROWNING! THE VILLAGE NEEDS TO RISE UP AND RECLAIM OUR YOUNG MEN AGAIN.
I don't wait for the young men I teach to "come to me" if they have a problem anymore. I look for the signs, and I pounce. I don't have that kind of luxury to wait for them to realize they are drowning anymore because these men-children are not waiting on us anymore. They are crying out and acting out in ways that brings closure to the lives of others as well as their own.
While I wait, my classroom could easily turn into a blood bath. We see it on television every week, sometimes every day. I can't wait for my leaders to lead us out of this wilderness. I love living too much, and I love seeing life radiating on the faces of my students way too much to wait for my government or my employer or anyone else to FIX THE PROBLEM with band-aids and duct tape. And the overwhelming feeling I experience every day I walk into the classroom is, even with all of the precautions I take for myself and my students, we are still at risk. We are still on the frontlines with nothing but slingshots made out of useless rhetoric spoken by politicians and news people who don't even have a clue.
On average, I am responsible for 90+ students every semester. I am responsible for making sure that 180 +/- parents get to hold their child again after the semester is over. The days of throwing signals and hints to them to "share with me" if they are struggling has passed. While I'm waiting for them to get brave enough to approach me, I and my students could all be dead and gone. If I can see with my natural eyes that I have students, particularly male students--no matter the hue of their skins--who are coming apart at the seams, I run not walk to them, and engage them in nonjudgmental conversation. I give them my phone number if I see they are without a support system. I tell them, call me and I will not judge you. I encourage them to get counseling. And when necessary, I alert the powers that be that WE have a troubled man-child or girl-child in our village and WE have to do something to help them.
WE HAVE TO SEE THEM AGAIN. We have to stop being afraid of gathering them up in our protective wings. We have to stop being afraid of pissing off a teenager or a young adult by getting "in their business." We have to stop trying to be their "friends." That doesn't mean we can't be friendly, but these men-children need authority figures who care and are offering help and solutions more than they need a "buddy." We have to stop waiting for laws and laws and more laws to FIX what is wrong with our men-children. THEY ARE BROKEN. THEY ARE BROKEN. They are broken and no single law alone is going to fix their brokenness.
We see them drowning and we do nothing. Gun laws alone will not fix the problem. Mental health laws alone will not fix the problem. Putting warning labels on video games and movies alone will not fix the problem. Parents and teachers and neighbors have to re-engage with our young men. That means, we correct them. We challenge them. We support them. We love them and we DON'T judge them according to their zip codes. We love them because they are a part of our village and our village includes all parts of this country, not just the the dot on the map where we live.
WE HAVE TO RE-ENGAGE THE VILLAGE. THE VILLAGE HAS TO RECLAIM OUR MEN-CHILDREN AGAIN BECAUSE RIGHT NOW -- we are losing them.