Sadness sounds on our watch
Do you ever worry that we don’t really have any idea at all what we’re doing? I do.
Caleb (not his real name) is a funny, outgoing young man who recently has, all of the sudden, not wanted to go school. It’s not that he has a hard time at school — he gets good grades and enjoys learning.
The problem is that two weeks ago another student deliberately pushed Caleb off of a piece of playground equipment, causing him to land hard and be hurt, though not injured. A couple days later, that same student kicked Caleb in the guts.
You would think that might have spurred the school to take action, to punish the offending student and act to make Caleb feel safe. And, I suppose, that sort of happened: an administrator had a stern conversation with the offender and offered Caleb ideas about how to modify his own behavior to help avoid the bullying situations. Ideas like stay close to an adult at recess and keep space between him and the other boy in the classroom.
In other words: cower.
Completely unsurprisingly, this didn’t make Caleb feel very safe. At one point, he even made a mean face at the other boy.
Which got him summoned to the administrator’s office.
That’s right: making a mean face is worthy of the same punishment as physical assault. Because, in the insanity that has become our efforts to socially engineer our children in the schools, there are no degrees of bad, there is simply bad. Making an online threat is roughly the same as bringing a plastic butter knife to school in your lunch; intimidation and violence are roughly the same as 6-year olds pretending to shoot at each other while playing war games on the playground.
Is it any wonder that teenagers brought up in this system are confused as hell, desperate, and all-too-frequently self-destructive? We send a message of non-violence, we preach getting along and not bullying, and the good kids comply—but those who don’t believe the rules apply to them take advantage. They prey on our docility, and the system does so little to protect victims that the victims don’t feel like they have any recourse. Or, at least, any recourse that is sane.
In the last two weeks, four high school students in Douglas County have committed suicide. This is not just sad for their families and their school communities — this is a tragic waste of human potential. For the last few weeks at our church we have included in our community prayers the Arvada Fire Department, because in the last few months they’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the number of suicides they’ve had to respond to. It’s taking its toll on them.
And then there’s the ... I don’t even know the word. Horrific? Terrifying? Case of the student at Standley Lake High School who walked into the school cafeteria, doused himself in fuel, and set himself on fire.
Think about that. A kid so disconnected that he could drink a bottle of bleach, then walk from the parking lot all the way into the building carrying a jug of fuel, go 40 feet through the main entryway, down a flight of stairs, and on another 50 feet to enter the cafeteria — without anybody noticing that something was terribly wrong.
This was not a cry for help — this was a shout from the mountain tops, a scream from the depths of this boy’s — this generation’s — personal hell. I pray that God took mercy on this boy’s soul, and that he found some peace in the days he was hospitalized before dying.
But for the rest of us, we can not afford to ignore the message of his shout: we are wrong, and we need to do something different.