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Editorial: CHILDREN AND GUNS ARE A TRAGIC MIX

L’Observateur / March 28, 1998

The news from our nation’s schools has been bad in recent months, especially as related to violence. This latest incident at a middle schoolin Arkansas should bring to the minds of parents the importance of proper gun control and safety.

We could easily be lulled into a feeling of false security by thinking “it can’t happen here.” Doubtless, at one time, people in Jonesboro, Ark.,thought the same thing and were just as incorrect, as events turned out.

The fact of the matter is our society is having a negative impact on some young people, making them feel violence is an acceptable choice when dealing with their personal problems. The fact of the matter is, and shouldbe taught emphatically, that violence is not a viable option for dealing with personal problems.

It’s easy to blame television or video games or schools or peer pressure or the internet for these ideas infecting our young people. In fact, it is thefault of parents, by their example or their own lack of communication with their children. Parents should be the greatest influence on theirchildren’s behavior. If they aren’t, there’s something not being done rightby those parents. If they arent’, someone or something else is steppinginto that void left by the parents.

In Jonesboro, the town’s parents are grief-stricken and shattered by the horror inflicted on them. However, it is a self-inflicted wound, and that’sthe most heartbreaking part of all. It didn’t have to happen. That’s smallcomfort to those parents most directly affected, the parents of those children with guns and of the victims, Children yearn for guidance and crave discipline, by their nature. It iswhen that nature is perverted that children go their own way and defy their parents and create havoc instead of share love. Parents everywhereright now need to sit down and talk with their children, not only about the recent events in Arkansas but also on a daily basis to build and strengthen their emotional links with their children.

Children need to know violence is not the way to handle disputes or deal with personal problems. There are acceptable ways to deal with that, andnone of these solutions involve guns.

And talking to children is not enough. Parents need to build an atmosphereof trust, sharing and caring along with daily communication. It is notenough to tell a child he is loved. That child has to be shown he is loved.If a child is reared in an atmosphere of fear and violence, that child will grow up fearing others and wreaking violence on others. If a child isnurtured in love, he will love his parents in return and share that love with others.

The events in Arkansas were tragic. Not only were several young peoplerobbed of their lives, hopes and dreams. Not only was a heroic teacher,who dove in front of a child to protect it, robbed of her life and stolen from the community. Two confused, tragic children have been branded asmurderers and their lives are also wrecked and devastated.

Talk to your children. Show your unselfish love for your children. And, forheaven’s sake, keep guns away from children.

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