There’s Something Wrong With Our Kids

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t. I don’t think anyone really knows. If they did, it’d be fixed by now.

I do know that when I recently thought about the fact that summer break is close for the kids, I thought in the same moment with relief, that I wouldn’t have to worry about a school shooting for a few months.

Weeks, really. Summer breaks seem to be getting shorter.

No matter the length, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting the urgent email from school. Or hearing the buzzer from a lockdown, because we live that close to a school. Or reading through social media threads that talk about a threat at a school in our district, and then wondering what I’d do if I knew a threat existed at one of my kids’ schools.

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It’s all stuff my parents never had to worry about when I was growing up. Stuff I never had to know when I was a kid. The biggest scare was a tornado, and that was going to be really rare if it did happen.

Even so, we knew how to evacuate to interior rooms super fast, taking with us a hard cover textbook to protect us – as if that would save our lives. Still, we didn’t question it. We were more concerned, as girls, about being squished into the boys’ bathroom during those drills.

We didn’t need to know how to dodge a bullet. Or how to put our hands on our heads and calmly exit a building. Or how to recover from something so unnecessary and traumatizing.

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There’s something wrong with our kids. Right now.

Don’t tell me school shootings have always happened, because they haven’t. Not like this. They are a recent “always” thing, but somehow we’ve already become numb to it.

That also means there’s something wrong with us.

So what’s different? What’s new now that wasn’t around before? What is pushing these kids over the edge?

Access to guns is not different. I didn’t analyze statistics on gun ownership, because I don’t have to do that to know that guns have been around for eons.

This generation of kids is tethered to technology in a way that other generations haven’t been in their youth. That’s new. That, I think, is one big difference. And so do a bunch of experts.

Kids are more isolated, need more stimulation, and are more depressed because their whole dopamine index is out of whack and linked to tech. Study after study after study supports that.

But I also think convenience plays into it. We can pretty much do anything we want when we want to.  Few things need to be earned anymore. Fast food can be delivered for crying out loud. As if fast food needed to get more convenient.

I wonder how that convenience plays into a person’s need or desire to feel accomplished. To feel necessary. To feel as if they contribute to something.

I know there is a fine line between kids hating their chores and kids magically feeling fulfilled by working on something bigger than themselves – but I also think it’s so necessary. They lean on each other for sure.

Any kid who wants to shoot other kids, at school or in a movie theater or at a mall, is lost. That child is lost.

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I’m not saying chores are the answer. I’m saying engagement might be. Hard work, less convenience, a distance from social media and highly-stimulating technology. I feel like those ideas might lead somewhere. Maybe we just need to slow the hell down a little. Take a step back. Unplug.

I’m no child psychologist. But I do know there’s something wrong with our kids. Our kids. And we need to look at it as an “our” problem instead of an “I hope it never happens to me” problem. But nothing will change until we look at things differently, or until we’re willing to inconvenience ourselves with some truths about the society our kids are living in.

Because it’s a very different one than the one we experienced. And those differences might be the difference.