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Since the only other diary I've seen on this topic was an outright flamewar bait, which I refuse to participate in on such a somber topic, I thought I'd add my voice and hope it's not unwelcome. The actual story below the fold.

Early this morning in suburban Pennsylvania, a disturbed young man arrived at his high school with knives in hand and injured, to varying levels of severity, a number of his peers. We don't know why, and may not for some time (or may never, thanks to the state of our mass media system).

We can issue guesses along the lines of "perhaps he suffered significant bullying and reached a breaking point" or "perhaps he got the idea from a violent tv show or movie" or "perhaps he was born with or has developed mental health issues and no one noticed or sought out the therapy he needs." All of these could be accurate. None of these could be accurate. My guess? Trauma. This boy has probably experienced a significantly traumatic experience in his life, or a combination of such experiences. But of course, as these things go, I could be wrong as well.

A little personal context: Every day at work I watch the result of trauma on the human body and mind. All too often I witness the therapists I work with needing to explain to school district representatives, community agencies etc the realities of PTSD: that it's not just for veterans and rape victims. Though I'm a teacher by training, I work as a social worker in an intensive mental health treatment program for kids and teenagers. Most of our clients, whose behaviors and challenges range from severe depression, anxiety, and intense suicidal tendencies to verbal and physical aggression and significant property destruction, have one thing in common: a traumatic experience, or many traumatic experiences. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, intra-uterine drug and alcohol exposure. Death of a parent. Growing up in an area of genocide in another country before being adopted to the US. Witnessing the murder of a family member. The list goes on and on. What is clearly demonstrated by research is that trauma changes the brain in the long-term and leads people, young or old, to do terrible, destructive shit to themselves and others when that trauma is not recognized by loved ones or society and is not processed in extended therapy.

To me, at least, the fact that (as of the time of this writing) none have died doesn't lessen the sadness of it. Of course it's incredibly good news that there have been no deaths associated with this incident, but we are still looking at dozens of school staff, teens, and their families, including the perpetrator and his family (an easy thing to forget as many will demonize this boy as a senseless monster and his parents as absentee idiots ignorant of their son's issues) who now have this traumatic experience to contend with and heal from.

Apologies for the rambling. A terrible thing happened today to those teens, families and school staff in Pennsylvania. I hope we can all agree on that, recognize it, meditate on it. I'm not even going to go into the "If he'd had a gun instead..." bullshit, because you know what? It doesn't matter. What's done is done. We could comment-rage all day on that, and have before on diaries about previous incidents.

A shocking, terrible thing happened. I hope ALL parties involved can get the support and help they need to recover and heal. I also hope we can focus on the eternally wise words of Fred Rogers: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" According to the Reuters report below, there were many such helpers, including students working to stop the bleeding of injuries their friends had sustained.


Originally posted to nerafinator on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 11:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks and DKos Pennsylvania.

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