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  • Writer's pictureKristen Miller


i've never wanted to shoot up a school (or any public place large or small for that matter). i don't own a gun, i've never shot a gun, and i don't know how to shoot a gun. but i DO know how the many school shooters have felt in the moments leading up to the school shootings.

the FBI did a study on school shooters and found several personality traits, characteristics, motives that were prevalent in the school shooters minds prior to the horrific acts they carried out. a few of those traits/characteristics/motives that i can relate to (or have related to in the past):

  • depression

  • low self-esteem

  • been bullied

  • experienced inequity/injustice

so let's break this down. depression - there is a history of depression in my family tree. my mother suffers from depression, my grandmother, my great grandmother. so it's only natural that it would be passed down to another generation (me). many people view depression as a weakness and/or character flaw, but in reality, it's a very real, physical illness (some may even call it a disease) that can be seen under the microscope. i was fortunate to have parents that provided guidance during times where i was feeling depressed, but not everyone is so lucky. the kids that aren't so lucky to have that positive role model, support system and guidance, often make poor choices, feel alone while being bullied and experiencing inequity/injustice, and therefore resort to drastic measures to be heard.

low self-esteem is a hallmark of adolescence. middle school is the worst! we are a social species and as such, desperately want to fit in. if there is anything about us that is different or stands out in some way, it provides rich soil for bullies to plant their seeds, ultimately leading to low self-esteem.

bullying is another hallmark of adolescence - again with proper guidance and support from your family and/or trusted adults in your life, many kids get through this. i was one of the lucky ones; there are many out there who are not.

inequity/injustice - this one has tested me many times over throughout my life. i was raised to always do the right thing, treat people with grace, dignity, respect and integrity, be honest, work hard, etc. i always assumed that because i was raised with these morals, the rest of the world must be the same way. i've been faced with a variety of situations that have been serious wake-up calls; not everyone does the right thing, not everyone treats people with grace, dignity, respect and integrity, not everyone is honest, not everyone works hard. and sometimes if you do operate by doing the right thing, treating people the way you want to be treated, working hard, etc., it doesn't make a difference, and leads to feelings of hopelessness.

a recent situation i was involved in really showed me this sentiment that made me NOT want to shoot up a school, but DID compel me to want to do something drastic. my work is my passion. i LIVE to serve my students. i have worked SO HARD over the last 12 years to make an impact with the kids i've been blessed to work with. for the last 12 years, i went into work everyday around 7:15am, and left anywhere from 4:00pm to 6:00pm daily. this is "in office" time - then i'd go home and work some more. i built relationships with staff, i built relationships with students. i built programs i believed in that would support kids in a way that they couldn't receive that support elsewhere. then a situation happened where without any reason or logic, it was all taken away in a 15-minute meeting. i struggled to make sense of it. i spent COUNTLESS hours talking to trusted friends, being angry, being sad, not understanding, feeling hopeless. and because of the unethical nature of this particular situation, i wanted to do something drastic. i understand how school shooters feel - i absolutely don't agree with what they have done, but i can understand the hopeless feeling of inequity/injustice and being at the mercy of someone else.

we can fix this. how do i know? because i have experienced feelings similar to a school shooter, but have never been compelled to do something even remotely similar to what these school shooters have done. if i have experienced the same kinds of feelings/emotions that these troubled kids have experienced and never drastically acted on these feelings/emotions, i can teach these kids how to manage their feelings/emotions in a productive, constructive way. and that is exactly what i'm going to do.

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