I don’t recall what exactly he said—I just remember throwing my inch-thick biology book end-over-end at the back of his head. It had been weeks of relentless “your mom” jokes and the like, but what I felt as the book thudded against his skull was not righteousness but helplessness. And that feeling only intensified when he—twice my size—picked me up by the throat and held me there in front of my ninth-grade science class. I’m not proud of having resorted to violence, but I felt cornered, out of options.
Thankfully, my sense of helplessness was not generalized but delimited to dealing with bullies. Many young people today are not so fortunate, flooded with debilitating, all-encompassing doubt. As the nation struggles to understand why schools have become killing grounds, this fact gets buried under debates about mental illness, the so-called news contagion effect (whereby news of a shooting inspires copycats), and of course, access to guns.1
Certainly, these are factors to consider. But they don’t change the simple fact that kids with a healthy sense of self-esteem do not kill other kids, regardless of what they see on the news or how easily they can access firearms. . . .
Click To Tweet
1. Ragy Girgis, “Is There a Link Between Mental Health and Mass Shootings?,” Columbia University Department of Psychology, July 6, 2022, https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/mass-shootings-and-mental-illness; Mark Keierleber, “The Contagion Effect: From Buffalo to Uvalde, 16 Mass Shootings in Just 10 Days,” The 74 Million, May 25, 2022, https://www.the74million.org/article/the-contagion-effect-from-buffalo-to-uvalde-16-mass-shootings-in-just-10-days/.
2. Tim Hains, “Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: If You Really Understand the Situation and Still Do Nothing, ‘You Are Evil,’’’ Real Clear Politics, September 23, 2019, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/09/23/greta_thunberg_to_un_climate_summit_you_have_stolen_my_dreams_and_my_childhood_with_your_empty_words_how_dare_you.html.
3. “Heartbreaking Moment When Kids Learn About White Privilege,” Channel 4, YouTube, June 30, 2020, https://youtu.be/1I3wJ7pJUjg.