DiLallo: Lane likely a victim of bullyingWritten by Frank DiLallo | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I write with a heavy heart, following news of school violence at Chardon High School. Three students dead, two seriously wounded. Many more will undoubtedly suffer a long lasting aftermath from the horrible tragedy. I am deeply saddened about young lives never lived out. Our prayers go out to the families, Chardon High School and Chardon community.
The alleged gunman, T.J. Lane, 17, faces three counts of first-degree felony aggravated murder in the killings of three students and a first-degree felony for attempted aggravated murder for allegedly shooting and injuring two other students. Following the court hearing, prosecutor David Joyce reportedly said, “This is not about bullying. This is not about drugs. This is someone who is not well.” Could this possibly be true? A random shooting for no other reason than T.J. is “not well?” If true, it doesn’t fit the historical imprint on why youth shoot at school.
Dr. Lisa Kovach, University of Toledo professor and author of “School Shootings and Suicides: Why We Must Stop the Bullies” argues, “While I can say that bullying wasn’t and isn’t the only factor, it is the one key factor present in all previously similar shootings. The FBI and Secret Service, shortly after Columbine, described family, social and school dynamics present in all (U.S.) school shooters. I think we’d like to sleep better at night, thinking he was deranged and this was random, but I beg to differ.”
T.J. Lane has had a troubled family life. His mother and father never married and each had domestic assault charges filed against the other during their relationship. The father was involved with several assault altercations over the years and spent seven months in prison for felonious assault. In 2009, T.J. himself was charged and pled true (guilty) to assault. T.J.’s maternal grandparents were legal guardians at the time of the shooting. It seems obvious T.J. was not coping with family dysfunction and is a victim turned offender.
There is no typical profile of a shooter, but T.J. seemed to fit some of the indicators: quiet, “Goth” (outcast), few friends, and access to firearms. The shooting was not impulsive, but premeditated and talked about on Twitter and text messaging, also consistent with previous school shootings. Others knew, but ignored or minimized the seriousness of the message.
Dr. Kovach explains, “While we’re told that these particular students didn’t bully him, I wonder if others did. The location — a school — speaks volumes. He didn’t choose a mall, grocery store, or random restaurant.” Something drove T.J. Lane to shoot students at Chardon High School. Something blinded him from seeing any other options. Even if not bullying, is it doubtful T.J. Lane was a rebel without a cause. Dr. Kovach explains, “The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis states one can only take a certain amount of repeatedly frustrating experiences, e.g., family violence, inequities, bullying/rejection, before one lashes out.”
Even knowing with certainty all the mitigating circumstances, it could never take away the pain or the fact that three innocent youth are dead — a grave injustice and another school shooting added to a growing list. No school, workplace or community can afford to deny the ever-present potential danger that this can happen anywhere at any time. We must listen and be vigilant!
Dr. Kovach makes a strong plea. “If we don’t work together as parents, educators and law enforcement, we will continue to see such tragedies in our country. Children are dying needlessly because we aren’t doing all that we can in terms of prevention. Chardon resulted in the deaths of individuals who could have had bright futures. We must learn from this and past school shootings and work fast and furiously on prevention.”
Most of the pain suffered from bullying is often felt in silence. Do not remain silent! Break the silence by sharing your truth, your stories and speaking out to stop bullying and violence in our community. In the Feb. 16 article titled “From Bully to Activist,” Sarah Ottney wrote about my story. I took a risk with the community to share my story, hoping to inspire others to do the same. I invite you to email me your story so that together we can use this column as a forum to learn from each other and speak out about the injustices of bullying. We must work together to keep our children, places of work and community safe. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect without exception, without exemption! There is no greater investment we can make now and for our future.
Frank is a Prevention/Intervention Schools Consultant with the Diocese of Toledo and author of “Peace2U: Three Phase Bullying Solution” and co-author of “Peace Be With You: Christ-Centered Bullying Solution.” Please visit www.peace2usolutions.com or email Frank at email@example.com.