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A High School Counselor Shares How We Can Prevent Another School Shooting While We Wait for Policy Change

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How do we prevent another school shooting? The answer is simple – you can’t. Every parent in America wants to know the answer to that question, but the truth is there is no quick fix. We need policies to change, and that takes time. It’s not going to happen over night. We shouldn’t give up, but you can google that question until your fingers bleed but no amount of searching is going to yield a golden answer.

We can have conversations about policy. We can have conversations about education. We can have conversations about mental health. We can have all the right conversations, and yet maybe, we will still be back in the same place we started. Because changing these policies will take time. Years, maybe.

As a counselor, it’s frustrating that we still can’t figure out how to stop a school shooting. Almost 19 years after Columbine and we still don’t have an answer. Parents, educators, and mental health providers, feel helpless. We feel stuck, hurt, and so freaking scared for our innocent children who are just trying to go to school.

How can we move forward when it feels impossible?

I know one answer – go teach your child about empathy. Teach them to care deeply about others. Teach them to be concerned about how others feel. Teach them to recognize the emotions of others. Because kids who are truly cared about by other kids don’t shoot people. Kids who care about other people reach out when they see someone who is upset. Kids who have empathy want to help when they see someone is struggling. Kids who have empathy make everyone they encounter feel seen, heard, and validated.

So, parents, while we’re waiting so anxiously for policy to change, google how to teach your child empathy. Search for those answers. Read your child books about empathy. Show them empathy when they are struggling and upset. Let them know that there are people in the world who truly care about how they feel. And then let them go do the same for others. Teach them to become kids who show empathy to every kid. Even to the kid who may seem strange. Even to the kid who has no friends. Teach them how to truly feel what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes-to walk their path, to feel their pain.

Kids who have empathy don’t shoot people. And maybe kids who feel true, unconditional empathy, won’t shoot people, either.

If every kid had empathy, and felt empathy, maybe there would be no school shootings.

You can’t prevent another school shooting overnight. We can fight for change, but it will take time. But what we can do is teach our children how to feel deeply and have a genuine concern about others. That’s a start we can make today while we’re waiting for the policies to change.

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending after the Parkland School Shooting. Very disturbing to have to reshare it only three months later because of the Santa Fe shooting.

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