Studying Bullies at the Texas Behavior Support Conference, and Beyond
My Best Friend Bill

How I Explained the Movie Theater Massacre to My Own Child

As we learn the identities of the dead in the horrific movie theater massacre, and begin to realize the epic nature of this event, and the long term consequences of how our lives are changed, children begin asking questions. Mine wants to know "Why" someone would pull such a horrific stunt.

As we rode along together yesterday on our way to our favorite theater, we listened to CNN via satellite. Like most teens, my kid loves mythic urban heroes. He is a Spiderman fan, he loves all of the Marvel characters, he idolizes the comic humility of the Batman character, and he follows the antics of Cat Woman. He knew, for example, that Bane was an older evil character. He looked it up on my iphone, and said, on no uncertain terms, "See Mom, I told you he was created in the 80's!" He was proud of the movie, and he said, "I told you it was stupid to connect Batman to politics." Of course he is right, as usual. It is stupid, and it's doubtful this has anything to do with the terrible movie shootings. Even if the suspect claims his intentions were political, or motivated by some statement on our culture, it isn't true.

He is simply mean. One recent evening my neighbor phoned and wanted to tell me about the prowler that had tried to enter her apartment early in the morning while she was home. She was, understandably, quite distraught over this event. Her questions were along the same vein as my son's...why...why would someone try to come into her apartment knowing she was home in her bed? I told her the only explanation possible, the prowler is mean.

We all want to explain the impossible. We all want a logical answer to why mean people attack us. Simply put, some people are just filled with hate, and there is no magic word, and no way to change them. They will always lack the grace to deal with problems.

I know lots of mean people. Are any of them capable of killing me? Maybe, but they usually limit their activities to gossip, meddling, and other cheap mind tricks. Why do they do that stuff? It isn't about me, it's just that they are mean.

If it's true our brain is nothing more than an organic super computer, and I believe that's basically what it is, then we should all be careful about how we program our most valuable piece of hardware. I have made it a point to teach this philosophy about the brain to my own child. I tell him to deny access to certain kinds of trash: slasher movies, violent video games, petty people, and crappy literature. He is responsible for his choices. However, a couple of years ago one of his more ignorant relatives smuggled a non kosher video game to my child via first class mail. He played with it a bit, and later turned it over to me. He said, "Mom, I want you to know I got this in the mail. I don't like it, and I don't want it."

Like most educated parents with skills and miles behind me, I don't have any interest in raising a gun toting, war mongering, mean individual with, or without, a college degree.

We have to teach our children kindness, and tolerance. In the meantime, I want my child to watch what goes on around him, to keep security first, and be able to fight for his life at any moment; the world is full of these "mean" people.


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