In less than a week, we’ve seen three separate reports of violence against area schools. Corbin High School was threatened last Friday, and just this week threats have been made against G.R. Hampton Elementary and Lynn Camp High School.
Last week, the nation memorialized the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre, where 12 students and one teacher died at the hands of fellow students at their Littleton, Colorado school. Additionally, 21 more people were injured in gunfire.
When Columbine happened, school shootings were new. It wasn’t the ‘norm’ to worry about such a threat. Now, schools have metal detectors, strict protocols about who is allowed inside facilities and when they can be there, and we even go so far as to have mock active-shooter trainings to equip staff and students in the event something as tragic as a school shooting were to happen.
In February 2018, three people were arrested for making threats against Knox County Schools after posting their intentions to social media.
For those of us who grew up in a time when such events were so uncommon, they were unheard of, we are left scratching our heads, looking for answers. For every question, there’s a dozen answers and two dozen more “But why?” questions that follow. What is the root of the desire to make threats against a school?
Some would argue those who would make such threats are just seeking attention. Maybe so. But, if that’s the case, where is their mind wondering if it brings them to the point of jeopardizing the lives of others, or even their own life and future, for their 15 minutes of fame? I personally don’t know anyone who commits a crime just for the attention they get for it. But, maybe there is something to be said for that.
Others argue it’s a spiritual issue. Evangelicals might call it a “Heart” issue... those who’d make such threats have a void in their life that leaves them empty and yearning for more that only growing spiritually in their faith might fulfill. As a Believer, I do believe this can be one aspect of why people act as they do.
Could the root be the exposure and desensitization our culture is experiencing when it comes to media, particularly gaming and violent movies, where death and gore isn’t just available, it’s glorified. The excitement of playing a first-person shooter game could certainly play into the desire to act out on such things, to see if the thrill is just as exciting in real life as it is in the game.
I venture to say many of the reasons people throw out there for people making threats and sometimes acting out on them are valid, I believe it all comes back to one thing: mental health.
It’s becoming rapidly, abundantly clear in our world that mental health has been too long-ignored and as a society we are starting to pay the price for it.
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders... these are all very real, very dangerous illnesses that can lead people on a path of destruction, and often harm others around them.
I believe spiritual health is vital. But, I also believe it’s vital to take care of ourselves mentally. If your doctor says you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, he gives you options to treat it. Mental health should be approached as any other physical ailment. There are treatments available that can save lives.
Medications, therapeutic counseling and other forms of aggressive treatment shouldn’t be stigmatized. Nobody likes to admit they have something going on, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The shame comes when something bad happens and it could’ve been avoided.