News & Politics

We Just Had the Nation's First Virtual School Shooting

AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

So much for keeping children home and doing Zoom school to keep them “safe” during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

An 11-year-old California boy shot and killed himself during a Zoom school call. It appears to be the first virtual school shooting.

KCRA TV reports that the boy was left in his sister’s care. He was on his Zoom call class when he pulled a gun and shot himself in the head at about 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Neighbors said they heard the young boy’s sister running out of the house and screaming for help this morning.

“The sister come here, banging on the door,” said one man who did not wish to be identified but who called for emergency response. “That little boy was one the nicest little boys you’ll ever want to know. He was special. Easygoing. He was the type of person who would never hurt anybody. Soft-spoken, with a beautiful smile.”

He attended Woodbridge Elementary School in the Lodi Unified School District.

In March, Kaiser Health News published a report about the ever-increasing numbers of child suicides. That was early in the pandemic.

They ― along with mental health experts, school leaders and researchers — are trying to understand why suicide by children ages 10 to 14 has gone up and up. The suicide rate for that age group almost tripled from 2007 to 2017. Newly released 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 16% increase over the previous year.

“At ages 6, 7 and 8, I’m now seeing kids with depression,” said Alvord, of Rockville, Maryland. “It used to be suicide attempts were more in high school. Now, I’m seeing more completed suicides in middle school and even upper elementary school.”

The CDC data illustrate “a steady consistent increase,” that “deserves our focus and our attention,” said CDC statistician Sally Curtin. “It’s linear and has gone up every single year since 2010.”

Now, with additional stressors on families of being breadwinners, lockdown artists, and school teachers, the stress is being felt by the whole family. Add to that the impulsive nature of kids who don’t know that their actions are permanent and it’s a tragedy all the way around.

Plus, Kaiser Health News says that kids are seeing death played out more often. It’s public.

Youth today are much more familiar with death, said Jonathan Singer, board president of the nonprofit American Association of Suicidology, citing more than 20 years of mass shootings at schools among reasons.

“Death has become public,” he said. “With the internet and social media, when somebody dies, it’s all over your newsfeed. Hundreds of millions knew within minutes that Kobe Bryant had died. Death is much more a part of their generation.”

Since the pandemic’s inception, Dr. Scott Atlas, formerly of the White House COVID team, has advocated getting kids back into schools. But other experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, advocated a complete lockdown of schools. Fauci only reversed his opinion about school lockdowns this week. The only thing he changed was his mind. The science that children are minimally affected by COVID-19, the Wuhan coronavirus, has remained the same.

Indeed, an article in the National Institutes of Health publication reports that suicide among children during the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming an “alarming social issue.” That study was published in September.

Children learn from example. If they see their loved ones in stress, they are likely to absorb the vibes and exhibit similar behaviour. While the adults may be better equipped to deal with stress, children are more likely to break under pressure. Compared to this, when they see their parents handle a situation maturely and in a positive frame of mind, they will be more secure and confident. Keeping children away from reality cannot buffer them from ground realities. Rather, it is better they learn to take the bull by the horns – the more they are encouraged to face difficulties head on, the more resilient they are likely to become.

Parents and guardians should provide an environment of trust that encourages their wards to share with them their deepest fears and insecurities. If they find their children are emotionally withdrawn or depressed, they should immediately seek psychiatric help and spend more time with them (Lite, 2013).

Would the same child have taken the gun to school to commit suicide and possibly taken the lives of other students with him? We don’t know. But we do know that isolating kids at home is depressing them on a scale that we can’t even appreciate yet.

Victoria Taft is the host of “The Adult in the Room Podcast With Victoria Taft” where you can hear her series on “Antifa Versus Mike Strickland.” Find it  here.  Follow her on Facebook,  TwitterParlerMeWeMinds @VictoriaTaft 

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