KRAVITZ: After Noblesville and other school shootings, parents have to have 'the conversation'

Hundreds gathered in Noblesville for a community prayer vigil Saturday, May 26, 2018, one day after a shooting at Noblesville West Middle School. (WTHR Photo/John Whalen)
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It's more than a T-shirt that supports the Noblesville community after the recent horror at a middle school there. For so many of us, for so many Colts who wore those shirts Wednesday during OTA's, it hits close to home, and not just in a physical sense. Many of these players are fathers of school-aged children, sending their little ones off to school every day with a whispered prayer that they will be spared the madness that has descended upon our country.

Cornerback Pierre Desir, a father of three children, two of them school-aged children, knows the fear and the anger, the confusion of why this keeps happening in a country that should be doing so much better by its kids.

Just this week, Desir pulled aside his 11-year-old and his 7-year-old, both of them fearful of returning to school after the Noblesville West shooting, and he had "the conversation.''

"It's an unfortunate conversation but it's one that has to be had,'' Desir said. "Just to let them know what they can do if they see some kid being bullied, or if they see something at school to speak up and know that the teachers, the principal, the school staff are all there to help them. We've all got to have that dialogue. It's sad that it's necessary, but it is.''

I had that conversation with my kids, too, except it happened back in 1999, when nearby Columbine High School in Littleton, Co. was shot up by two twisted young gunmen. We were living in Littleton at the time, less than five miles from Columbine, and I was working out at a health club just a mile or two from the high school when the shooting began.

My daughters, who were seven and six at the time, remained in lockdown in their grade schools long into the afternoon and early into the evening.

And they were terrified. Confused, as little ones are when things like this happen, but terrified, too. As parents, we do all we can to keep our kids safe, but the last thing on our minds, at least back then, was the notion that school could go from being a safe space for learning into a killing ground. Now, it seems to happen every week or two, and a certain myopic segment of our country acts like it has absolutely no idea why it's happening.

It's violent video games! Yeah, they play the same games in other countries, and we don't read about school massacres every two weeks.

It's pornography! yells one of our dimmer local politicians. Right. When I was a kid back in the dark ages, pornography didn't inspire us to run for our father's guns so we could massacre other students. If we had a beef, we settled it with our fists – which didn't usually end so well for me, but that's another story.

It's violent lyrics in songs! Again, they listen to the same music in Canada and Great Britain and Germany and elsewhere, and their schools aren't becoming Ground Zero.

It's cyber-bullying! I'm pretty sure that kids engage in cyber-bullying in other advanced countries. Again, we don't see this as a weekly or semi-weekly occurrence.

I hear people asking, "Why does this keep happening?'' This is like me asking myself, "Why don't you lose weight?'' Um, because you eat badly, drink too much beer and have forgotten the directions to the health club? Put two and two together, people. We are the most violent advanced nation on earth, a nation in love with its guns. But common sense gun control will not be enacted as long as politicians have sold themselves lock, stock and barrel to the NRA.

Stick to sports!!!!!

No.

To continue: Why doesn't it happen with the same frequency in other countries?

I'm not even going to say.

If you can't figure it out for yourself, I can't help you. I just can't.

If this seems personal, it's because it is. My oldest daughter runs the special ed department at an Indianapolis inner-city school. I worry about her every day – even though it's notable that these sorts of mass school shootings don't seem to happen in the inner city. I'm not smart enough to explain why that is, except to say, it certainly seems to be the case.

If my daughter was a police officer or a member of the military or a firefighter, I could live with the idea that her life was on the line every time she went to work. But a teacher? I have to worry about the safety of a teacher when he or she goes to work? These folks work ridiculous hours, get paid next to nothing and supply the educational foundation for our children – and much, much more. And they can't go to work without worrying that some troubled kid is going to walk into class with his father's guns and shoot up the place?

I know that Noblesville's Jason Seaman has been called a "hero teacher,'' and all of that is very true, but to me it's a superfluous redundancy. To me, teachers are heroes. Period.

Now, though, they are in harm's way.

Our country, our society, is very sick, as sick as I've ever seen it during my 58 years on this planet.

We have the power to fix this, or at least put a dent in it. But we don't have the leadership that is willing to stop the bloodshed. We don't have the national will to stop it. So it will keep happening, you know it will keep happening, and everybody will be having these terrible conversations with their children, whose youthful innocence has been lost forever.

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