I'm sure by now that we are all aware of the tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In short, there was a school shooting in this small town of just over 25,000 people, where 20 young students and 6 adults lost their lives. I do not want to talk about what happened, as that is not my place. However, this situation really hits home with me for several reasons, so I would like to urge you, the readers of our UT Tyler Student Blog, to think carefully about the language you are using when discussing this situation, if you choose to do so.
First of all, I am personally deeply saddened by this shooting just knowing that I was on-track to be an elementary teacher in just a matter of weeks. Prior to this fall semester, I spent 4 years as an Early Childhood Education major, and that would have certified me to teach Preschool-4th grade in the public schools. I did end up changing my career path because I no longer felt called to teach, but I still have a great love and adoration of children and their development. Also, because of my education background, I know much more about the public school system and what is it that teachers REALLY do on a daily basis.
Secondly, I from Lindale, TX (only 20 miles from Tyler), and these are both small towns, like Newtown. A tragedy is a tragedy no matter the location, but I truly believe that the citizens react differently in a small town than they would in a large city.
Like I said, I want to talk about the language that we use when discussing such a tragedy as this. There are certain things or phrases that are being said in person and on the web that I believe should be reconsidered. Again, these are just my thoughts on the matter. I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, myself included. I should say that I don't think anyone is meaning to use these words maliciously, and I do not believe that everyone sees them as in the same way I do. However, I am going to provide these words, why I do not think they should be used in this way, and personal examples or possible replacement phrases, if applicable.
"...Especially at this time of year."
Hearing these words tacked on the end of various phrases such as "Such a tragedy..." or "I just hate this..." is at the top of my list for things that I think should not be said. It's true that this is the Holiday Season, and Christmas is a matter of weeks away. However, I do not think these things should effect the reactions or responses of America in any way. To me, this would be just as terrible in March or September as it is now in December.
I have countless friends that are either already in the teaching field or are recent graduates looking for those jobs, and the thought of this happening in any of their classrooms, no matter the "season," is terrifying to me.
"It's even worse because they were kids."
These children AND adults had a terrifying experience that not many other people will ever truly understand. Any life ended at the hand of another person and their trigger is a life that has been cut short. Several 6 and 7 year old lives were cut short, but so were some young adults and middle-aged adults. It is not "worse" that there were 20 children who died, it is sad that there were 26 people that lost their lives.
"Monster" "I hope he rots" etc.
When hearing/seeing people describe the shooter in this situation, I do not think it is anyone's job to judge him. I am by no means defending his actions, because I do not agree with his choice in actions. However, I think it is important to remember that he too had a family, and he was once a 6 and 7 year old child. So many people struggle with mental health problems, and far too often those individuals get overlooked until they do something drastic, and it is too late.
Writing this blog was tough for me, however, it is something that I am passionate about, and I felt led to share my thoughts with you all about describing these types of events, and this event particularly. My hope is that I have brought up even just one point or idea that, you, reader can think about.