TEXAS VIEW: Keep misery from turning into ferocity

By Denton Record-Chronicle

The gun-rights crowd and their antagonists, the gun-control crowd, have staked out their positions during the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

One side argues that we need to ban assault-style firearms like the one Nikolas Cruz used to kill 17 high school students in Parkland. The other side asserts that banning a firearm will do no good and would violate America’s commitment to freedom.

Let’s set that debate aside for the time being and focus on what it means to be miserable and how misery produces ferocity.

Cruz is an oddball, a loser and a loner. Before he was expelled from high school, he suffered bullying, ostracism and ridicule at the hands of fellow students.

“This kid got bullied a lot,” said one student who knew Cruz at school. “I definitely regret not saying anything.”

Psychotic violence became the offspring of Cruz’s inner turmoil.

We’ve all known kids who get bullied at school, or we’ve been one of those kids who suffered silently while being bullied.

Middle school and high school principals and teachers know the students who are victimized by bullies on their campuses. It’s too easy for busy educators to dismiss bullying as a rite of passage that will always be with us.

Whoever coined the advice, “See something, say something,” deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. The antithesis is the devil-may-care, “This, too, shall pass.”

While the National Rifle Association and its opponents debate gun laws, the myriad professional associations dedicated to public school improvement should be planning a nationwide, or statewide, blue-ribbon conference on school shootings.

But the conference must focus on prevention and not just on how to respond to an active shooter on campus. We have to get better at identifying and tracking the Nik Cruz’s in the world before they start shooting.

There is no single solution to preventing tragedy. The number of variables that come into play is mind-boggling, and everyone has a favorite to explain things — violent video games, bullying, lax gun laws, rejection of church and God and rampant divorce.

For teachers and principals, the key to progress is finding out who on campus is miserable and intervene in their lives before misery turns into ferocity.

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