Shooting at Reynolds High School, Oregon

Yesterday was a typical day of work at home. My day was filled with phone calls, internet research, job applications, and trying to craft the right pitch for a new story idea. While taking a break from brainstorming, I hear about another school shooting—this time in a school district where I used to work as a substitute teacher.

It’s an eerie, surreal feeling. There was a lump in my throat. I have frequently subbed in both Reynolds Middle School and Reynolds High School. I thought about the students I worked with and even the ones that I may have gently reprimanded for the typical testing-the-sub kind of mischief. That is normal and nothing out of the ordinary. Quickly, I started sleuthing to find out if I recognize the victim or the teacher who was injured. It’s not that the tragedy is any less if I didn’t personally know the victims. When something like this happens in your hometown, it really hits home. That was the way I knew how to deal with my emotions. I was thankful that the school evacuated and parents were able to pick up their kids. Something like this can really leave me shaking.

There is plenty of commentary whether political, social, and what must be done. There are politicized discussions about gun access, broken families, and kids these days. The saddest part is not that the school shooting happened in a place where I walked in. The saddest part is that school shootings and violence is increasingly common in our country. Something definitely needs to be done.

I don’t want to point fingers or blame the family of the shooter. I don’t know enough about them. But could something have been done to prevent that 15-year-old to access the gun? What is the motive behind the shooters? What are we doing to help troubled teenage boys? I strongly feel that society labels and further alienates struggling teens instead of helping them cope and socialize into the larger society. With school shootings, I hope scholars and experts can do some more research in the mind of shooters and what can be done to help them. Our current system and methods are not working.

I even hate saying the term, “let’s pray for them.” I don’t want this to be an empty cliché. While praying, I hope we all seek wisdom and think about real ways to help those affected by this shooting.

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