Will ‘Looking Out for the Lonely’ Stop Future School Shootings?
The violence, and threats of violence that are happening in our schools these days is absolutely terrifying, and completely out of control. As a parent with young, soon-to-be school age children, I lose sleep over what the future may hold for them.
This country is currently in an uproar about the importance of gun control and police in our schools, and I will not be commenting on that, but I will say that my gut keeps telling me we're not attacking the right root of the problem.
I recently read an article in Reader's Digest that really made me think. A parent named Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about how her son's teacher "looks for the lonely children" every week in her classroom since the Columbine shootings happened, and the way the teacher does this completely moved me...
Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
So now you're thinking "what does this accomplish", right? Here's the answer according to the article...
every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who can’t think of anyone to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
I truly believe that love conquers all in life, (so much so that I have those three words tattooed on my body) so maybe it's time to stop fighting and protesting and focus our energy instead on the people in our lives. I'm not saying we all need to become martyrs, but maybe a little less self-absorption and a little more observation could do a whole lot of good? It can't hurt to try...