The good news is my husband survived week three of his BCG therapy. One more Monday to go, and then we can breathe a little easier for awhile. He’s also feeling more himself, enough to worry about the recent Parkland high school shooting.
Right after the news hit yesterday, he began researching online high schools for our 16-year-old son.
He’s a bit calmer today, but still unnerved as more news comes out about a potential shooter closer to home. Right around the same time as people were freaking out on Twitter about Parkland’s shooting suspect, 19, a grandmother in Everett alerted the authorities to another potential one, 18, who allegedly planned to take out as many students as possible at ACES Alternative High School, as some sick badge of honor.
Her grandson, can you believe it? That poor woman.
She stumbled upon her grandson’s journal, allegedly detailing the plans. She also found a semi-automatic rifle in his guitar case.
What’s especially chilling is this kid’s plans initially included killing as many students as possible from my son’s high school. Word on the street is, he decided which school to target with a coin toss.
When police investigated, they found more chilling evidence: grenades minus the black powder, and maybe plans for a pressure cooker bomb (I heard that part on KIRO-FM radio).
From his alleged journal, c/o the Feb. 14-15, 2018 Seattle Times: “I’m preparing myself for the school shooting. I can’t wait. My aim has gotten much more accurate… I’ve been thinking a lot… I need to make this shooting/bombing at Kamiak [High School] infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I need to make this count. I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings). I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”
I’m trying not to think what would’ve happened if the coin toss went in Kamiak’s direction. My husband’s already gone there and back. He tends to be overly protective, as if our boy is still in the toddler years.
Maybe I should be freaking out more, I don’t know.
I’m also trying not to think about what happens if cops can’t hold that would-be shooter in custody because of a lack of evidence, aka, catching him in the act. His lawyer already brought it up. “In this country we do not criminalize people for thoughts. We do not punish a teenage boy for venting in his diary. Based on what I have seen, the state has insufficient evidence that Joshua actually intended to act on those musings [CNN],” public defender Rachel Forde said.
According to the latest reports, they haven’t even formally charged him of a crime. Technically, I guess you could say they arrested him in anticipation of his possible intent to commit a crime. I’m thinking of a Tom Cruise movie called “Minority Report…”
Everyone online is fighting over the usual gun control issues. A few are dusting off the same arguments about mental illness. Going nowhere, as usual.
Seems the Florida shooting suspect was a prime candidate for something like this: he was bullied in school, his adoptive mother made sure he got therapy with a counselor, but then she died, leaving him an emotional wreck. I think I even heard somewhere that someone in the mental health system dropped the ball in keeping an eye on him.
That’s another frightening prospect nobody ever considers in the aftermath of these shootings. Almost every single shooter could do with quality mental healthcare. All of us, really, after the two-three years we’ve suffered through.
But the fact of the matter is, quality mental healthcare is pure fallacy. It doesn’t exist. It can’t, not in a money vacuum. We as a nation don’t know how to take care of our people, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We don’t want to put our money where our big mouth is. We’re so good at talking, shooting fish in a barrel, taking the easy way out, but lousy at follow-through.
When’s the last time you checked in on a friend who’s been down in the dumps? Brought a home-cooked meal to a neighbor down the street after an estate sale? Donated to a GoFundMe campaign to help a family in need? Babysat one of those overwhelmed single moms struggling to make ends meet? Done something for someone else that didn’t involve a wine weekend or your own paid gig? Held someone’s hand and let her cry it out, even if you barely know her? Gone outside your family circle and friendly comfort zone for real human contact?
Meant what you said for once?
I know of many cases where the parents of troubled teens have their hands tied. They have no resources. Often, the teens run amok, doing whatever the hell they want, and they know the parents can’t do anything about it. The cops can’t deal with them unless a crime has been committed. There aren’t enough mental health professionals to deal with the overload, and even then, the kid has a lot more power than the parents. Even if the kid is a threat to the rest of the family, there’s very little the parents are allowed to do other than stand by and pray to G-d they can safely, responsibly keep that kid from acting out.
I know of one teen who flat-out told his mom that he can do whatever he pleases and there’s nothing legally that she can do about it. He said that as long as he’s under 18, she is forced to take care of him or be legally found negligent, which could involve prison time.
From what I understand, at least in Washington state, parents can’t even commit their teens to a mental facility to get them help unless they go too far (read: attempted murder). So they are free to beat up their siblings within an inch of their lives, attack their own parents, steal, and destroy property, slander, threaten, etc.
When someone on talk radio brought up the need for a stronger mental health system, like it was as easy as picking up a Big Mac at McDonald’s, I piped up, “What mental health system?” There is a shortage of licensed therapists and psychiatrists, especially the latter. Try finding one under duress, I dare you. Try finding one if you’re not exactly Bill Gates, I double-dog dare you. The few in this state are so overbooked with regular patients they can’t accept any more or you have to wait months if not years for the next opening.
Just think about that.
Washington state is also financially strapped. Legislators here can’t even pay for education, transportation, and the growing homeless population. You seriously think they’re going to get their act together for the mentally ill? A lot of those mentally ill are a part of the homeless population. Then, you throw in the growing population of lower to middle class unable to afford rising home prices and rentals, the mental stress that’s gonna cause… This place is a ticking time bomb.
Nobody cares enough. It’s easier for people to extend “thoughts and prayers,” platitudes and empty gestures, a quick post before returning to their real lives. Nothing that will cost or inconvenience them much.
(Btw, if you’re O-, go to your nearest blood bank. Florida needs your blood type.)
And, I haven’t even gotten to the problem of our two-faced, dismal, government-run educational system. That’s a whole other nightmare. There’s a lot of fancy talk about dealing with bullying, but very little action. Kids continue to bully other kids, and get away with it. Their parents continue to game the system, and the administration/teachers continue to look the other way. I know this because good, decent parents have confided in me.
Good kids are left to their own devices to protect themselves for as long as they’re forced to go to high school. Oftentimes, they feel like they have no other choice than to move, change schools, and hope for a fresh start. I know. I’ve seen this happen. I’ve seen good kids go wrong, because a few too many teachers and administrators play favorites, or worse, unfairly target these kids when they’ve done nothing.
But you’ll never hear these kids say a word about what they’re going through. By the time they hit high school, they know they’re powerless and on their own.
A lot of parents, the majority I daresay, are completely on the school’s side — quick to blame those unruly kids and their lack of parenting, those square pegs refusing to fit in the round holes, quick to make blanket assumptions based on an antiquated educational system from the past that is no longer relevant today. You’d be surprised how different school is from when you went. Most of you wouldn’t last one day. I know I wouldn’t.
My son deserves a Porsche for surviving this long.
For me, life goes on. That means school, too. Unless there’s a practical reason for my son to quit and try online schooling, I will encourage him to hang in there and make the best of a bad situation. Because high school is a microcosm of the world. If he can’t navigate the assholes, bullies, con artists, and mind-boggling bureaucracy there, he won’t have a hope in hell when he graduates.
In the meantime, all I have the energy for is constant prayer, and crying every time I see a photo of one of those kids slain by the shooting suspect in Florida.
That could be my kid. That very nearly was my kid.
Every time he comes home safe and sound, bored out of his mind, maybe, extremely exhausted, definitely, I breathe a little sigh of relief. One more day, he got through one more day. Thank you, Lord.