We just had a tragic shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Lone gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in cold blood. During his time attending, he was mercilessly bullied. He was 5 ft 7 in and 120 lb.
In 2014, in Isla Vista, California, Elliot Rodger shot three people and knifed three people, all fatally. He had Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism. He described himself as being shorter than the girls. Before the horrific event, he described his bullying in detail.
In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 people at Columbine High School. Their “crime” was being gifted. They were bullied for it.
Nothing can forgive mass murder, but bullying should not be tolerated. Imagine how terrible it must be to be tormented to the point where you are willing to kill randomly, then commit suicide, as all but Cruz did.
As reported in the Washington Post a year after the Columbine Shooting, a U.S. Secret Service analysis of 37 premeditated school shootings found that bullying played the major role in more than two-thirds of the attacks.
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We can discuss gun control, school security, and likely shooter investigations, but bullying should be part of the conversation.
To the students: Do not bully others just because you can. A small fraction of them may seek revenge.
To the faculty: Do not look the other way when you see bullying. You are dealing with people who are so immature that they think that pulling wings off of flies is a good idea. Try to instill compassion.
To those seeking revenge: Remember that you are being judged by children. The cool kids of today are the busboys of tomorrow. Recall the slogan “living well is the best revenge.” Try to be the best person that you can be. If you are gifted, turn it into a career. Nerd is a synonym for billionaire. If you are small, lift weights. You will exude such strength and confidence that you will look forward to being bullied, but nobody will dare.
To law enforcement: If someone goes into a school and shoots another, your job is to ensure that he does not live long enough to shoot a second victim. You can do this with armed guards or by allowing faculty members to be armed.
We need to show compassion. People who do not fit in (the bullied) deserve a break. Teenagers who act like children (bullies) need to be recognized as such. But people with blind vengeance (shooters) must be stopped. Even bullies deserve mercy.
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