Many years ago I taught a student who worried me. (Of course, as I’ve recently written, I worry about many students.) This one, though, has stuck with me for at least a decade. This child did fine in school but did not interact with peers well. I worked with so many colleagues trying to get this child help out of concern that this was a child who could have tendencies to harm others. I didn’t and don’t feel that we did enough.
This child will haunt me. While this one is no longer a child, I still worry about those possible tendencies. I fear seeing that name in the news. The more time passes the more hope I have that I was wrong. Or that someone was able to help this child in a way I couldn’t.
In spite of these fears and worries, I did all I could to ensure the safety of all of the students in my classroom, this child included. I was worried but I could have been completely wrong. Never did I want this child to feel alienated or isolated. It was a difficult line to walk and I’m sure I was far from perfect. But every child in my classroom deserves my respect and care.
Reading this article brought this child back to mind. Reading this was hard and I can’t imagine how hard this has been, and still is, for this young man and his family.
The pressure to prevent the worst has grown as students have begged adults to make sure they aren’t next to die. In a nation divided over gun control, school threat assessments offer another option: Find a way to control the student.
After so many school shootings and other mass attacks there are people who reflect on the attacker and talk about all the signs that were there. In hindsight it seems so obvious that we should have seen this coming. However, how many other people show those same signs and don’t ever do anything horrifying or even mildly damaging? Without hindsight we end up seeing many possible attackers. If we treat them as attackers don’t we make it more likely that becomes their future?