Most of us were in shock Dec. 14 and the days afterward, wondering how 6-year-old children could be gunned down in their classroom by a young man barely out of his teens.
We don’t have words to describe our feelings of horror and sadness. We remember our own little selves and what scared us. We think about the surprise as that classroom door opened and anticipation of a Christmas visitor quickly changed as shots were fired. We are thankful for the quick thinking that saved some.
How does this happen? How does a shooter get to the point where the connection and feelings for others is gone. What secret imaginings were in his brain. Somehow, he lacked compassion. He didn’t make connections. He was void of feeling.
At the Crisis Center’s Alternative House, almost 400 injured kids enter our doors each year. Each has a sad story. They have grown in size, but they are still little selves with emotional bruises lingering after the physical bruises are gone. They are alone among many at a children’s homeless shelter at the holidays.
As a country, we must do more with compassion and caring to attend to the needs of kids — but also to provide mental health services for people whose obvious strangeness tells us they need help before their sudden decision to alleviate their pressures results in death and injury of innocents and the blameless.
In Indiana, we are near the bottom of the U.S. list for prevention services. Service funds have been cut for children. Kids are running from a home and getting put right back into it — or going into one-after-another foster homes. It’s obvious they can’t protect themselves. Kids don’t vote. It is up to us. We need more services, not less.
We can’t eliminate weapons or guns, but we can provide counseling, mental health care and other services so that a once-upon-a-time little boy named Adam Lanza does not grow up to injure and kill defenseless people. Let’s save some kids. Let’s save some futures.