SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 18, 2012

Our view: School shooting defies understanding

It is difficult to comprehend the scope of the tragedy that has struck Newtown, Conn., where a gunman Friday killed 26 people at an elementary school, 20 of them children.

Police say Adam Lanza, 20, also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home then drove to the school where he opened fire on school personnel and the children. Lanza killed himself at the scene, bringing the total number of dead to 28.

It is heart-rending to think of the loss suffered by the families of these children. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims, their friends and loved ones.

It’s impossible to determine at this point what might have motivated Adam Lanza to commit such a horrible act. In the end, there rarely is an understandable motivation behind the actions of mass murderers. They are not rational and their “reasons” are known only to themselves.

In the wake of such tragedies, the same questions arise. What must we do?

Former Hamilton-Wenham Schools Superintendent Marinel McGrath, who now holds the same position in Andover, has some helpful suggestions. We must talk to our children, she said in a letter to the community.

First, parents are encouraged to “protect your young children from repeated viewings and auditory exposure to news accounts” of the school shooting. Provide only as much information and reassurance as the child seems to want or need. Children often may not be interested in a lengthy conversation about this, and will be satisfied with a brief reassurance.

Emphasize that they are safe and that they are loved.

McGrath also had words of hope and optimism for those touched by this tragedy.

“We are all in this together; loving and caring for the children of this community,” she wrote. “For all of us as adults, I trust we will find a way to draw reassurance and comfort from each other and the affirming messages of this holiday season. The bad news is not all of the news, and we have so much to be thankful for.”

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