One-third of high school students have heard somebody say he or she will kill someone. One-seventh of high school students seriously considered committing suicide. Eighty percent of teen pregnancies are unintended. Forty-three percent of teens have been bullied online. One out of every 200 girls aged 13 to 19 is cutting herself. Seventy-five percent of students experimented with not only alcohol and tobacco but hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and 45% of those students are actively using, sometimes even on school grounds.1
What do these statistics have to do with the brothers Tsarnaev, who were accused of the Boston Marathon bombings? Or, for that matter, with Adam Lanza, the Connecticut school shooter? Or the other homegrown radicals and mass murderers our country has witnessed?
On April 25, The Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed by Judith Miller, who made the assertion that had the Tsarnaevs attempted to bomb New York City, it would have been prevented. New York has a counterterrorism program which flags situations that can lead to radicalization—and the breakup of the family in 2010 is one such flag.
The April 27 WSJ adds a seemingly small fact about this family that has enormous meaning. Last June, the boys’ mother shoplifted from a Lord & Taylor department store. She admitted to police that she had been feeling depressed and wanted to give dresses to her daughters as gifts. The seven dresses were worth $1,624.
In contrast to this family, an op-ed piece in the same April 27 paper, written by another immigrant from Chechnya, Kenan Trebincevic, told of how he, his older brother, and their entire family were welcomed when they arrived in this country and were constantly given a helping hand by people here. From transportation to school to free orthodontia, people in the community smoothed the way for this family. As a consequence, they feel only gratitude to America.
Research shows that family breakup or violence, parental depression, feeling alienated, and social-skills deficits are risk factors for depression. They are also risk factors for violence, according to the reports above and those regarding Adam Lanza.
What are the implications of this information?
- In our communities, we must reach out to families that need a helping hand; we can’t afford to mind our own business. Whether such people are hurting because they are immigrants or because they are newly single or because a parent is fighting overseas, each of us must take responsibility to show kindness and assist in any way we can.
- If we find ourselves in over our heads in handling life or our children, it is not the time to be shy or allow our egos to stand in the way of asking for help. What’s more, if the help we seek turns out to be unhelpful, it would be a mistake to quit the search; we must continue until we find the kind of help that makes a difference.
- As citizens, we must demand more family counseling in our schools at all age levels so that counselors’ presence in schools becomes routine. In this way, people will feel less inhibition taking advantage of counseling and it will lose any stigma it might still have.
- We must consider family counseling to be an investment in the health and safety of our loved ones and utilize it in our communities if it is not available in school. We should never again look at it as a luxury, because that is one thing recent news makes clear—it is not.
1. Video: http://blog.rockstarsuperstarproject.com/
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