Archived Story

Shootings stem from unaddressed issues

Published 9:04am Thursday, March 1, 2012

Column: Thanks for Listening

A tragedy happens again.

Let me set the storyline: a friendly, quiet small town in rural America, a town that could be any of the thousands of cities or villages that makes up each county and state.

A high school setting: lunchroom, library or cafeteria.

Student: a quiet, loner type who no one really pays to much attention to.

Weapon: a gun.

End result: an unfortunate death.

Sound familiar? Have you seen this story on CNN before? Have you read about this in your newspapers?

Of course you have.

In Chardon, Ohio, this week, Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr., and Daniel Parmertor were all shot and killed by T.J. Lane.

Once again we have to deal with another community looking to heal.

Please do not think I am making light of this situation, because I am not. I am sick and tired of hearing about the tragic loss of teenagers. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. As a father of three children it makes my soul hurt to see these families trying to cope with the loss of a young child.

It is just not how it is supposed to be. Your children are supposed to outlive you and have a better life than you. As a parent you work hard to make the last two statements true. You stay up at night worrying about that very thing.

How can we change what is going on? I certainly do not have the answers, but we need to start to get serious about a couple of problems that are always lurking behind every one of these school shootings.

The first is bullying. Bullying still is not taken as serious as it should be. School districts across the nation are still looking the other way when it comes to bullying. We need to have a sober dialogue about what our children are actually facing every day.

Here is what freshman Danny Komertz said about the shooter,

“I looked straight ahead, and I saw a gun pointing at a group of four guys sitting at a table. He was aiming right at them, as he was two feet away. He wasn’t shooting around the cafeteria at all. He was directly aiming at the four of them.”

This was not a random shooting spree. This was a child who certainly sounded like he knew whom he was targeting.

Bullying has used the Internet and is going 1 million miles an hour, and we as a society cannot keep up. Bullying is not what it was 25 years ago. Social media is the sweet spot of our youth. You cannot go anywhere without someone texting or being on some form of social media platform. Add bullying to these devices and you now have a supercharged way of ruining someone’s life.

The second major problem is mental health. I think that as a society we have been overwhelmed with an epidemic that is vastly not understood. Good portions of America still want to say, “Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and call it a day. We now know that depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, but because they are not a broken leg or something that is a visible illness. They are neither understood nor treated correctly.

These two issues need to be attacked head on before we will ever see a stop to the misfortune and heartbreak that happens every few years at various schools. I realize that it is going to take many years before these two issues are harnessed and understood, but we need to start somewhere. Let’s hope that we quit looking the other way when bullying or mental illness is brought up. Let’s quit sweeping it under the rug. Let’s take a stand.


Go Tigers!

Good luck to all the area individual state wrestlers at state this weekend. Bring home state titles! We are all behind you.


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.