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An educator at Eustis Middle School in Florida who was just named “Teacher of the Year” last month posted her reaction on social media to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

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Kelly Guthrie Raley’s response has been shared more than 600,000 times since she posted it on her Facebook page, with many more likes, leading us to conclude that many people feel the same way as she does: the violence we are seeing is not a gun problem but a cultural one.

Raley wrote that mental health issues, lack of available care for it, lack of discipline at home, lack of parental support for teacher discipline of their children, lack of moral values, promotion of violence through video games and the screaming on reality TV have created a culture where compassion is gone and the “permanency of death” is not understood by youths.

Here’s what Raley said in full:

Okay, I’ll be the bad guy and say what no one else is brave enough to say, but wants to say. I’ll take all the criticism and attacks from everyone because you know what? I’m a TEACHER. I live this life daily. And I wouldn’t do anything else! But I also know daily I could end up in an active shooter situation.

Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it-violent video games that take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives, as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!

I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and at any time could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to STEP UP! Be the parent that actually gives a crap! Be the annoying mom that pries and knows what your kid is doing. STOP being their friend. They have enough “friends” at school. Be their parent. Being the “cool mom” means not a damn thing when either your kid is dead or your kid kills other people because they were allowed to have their space and privacy in YOUR HOME. I’ll say it again. My home was filled with guns growing up. For God’s sake, my daddy was an 82nd Airborne Ranger who lost half his face serving our country. But you know what? I never dreamed of shooting anyone with his guns. I never dreamed of taking one! I was taught respect for human life, compassion, rules, common decency, and most of all, I was taught that until I moved out, my life and bedroom wasn’t mine…it was theirs. And they were going to know what was happening because they loved me and wanted the best for me.

There. Say that I’m a horrible person. I didn’t bring up gun control, and I will refuse to debate it with anyone. This post wasn’t about gun control. This was me, loving the crap out of people and wanting the best for them. This was about my school babies and knowing that God created each one for greatness, and just wanting them to reach their futures. It’s about 20 years ago this year I started my teaching career. Violence was not this bad 20 years ago. Lack of compassion wasn’t this bad 20 years ago. And God knows 20 years ago that I wasn’t afraid daily to call a parent because I KNEW that 9 out of 10 would cuss me out, tell me to go to Hell, call the news on me, call the school board on me, or post all over FaceBook about me because I called to let them know what their child chose to do at school…because they are a NORMAL kid!!!!!

Those 17 lives mattered. When are we going to take our own responsibility seriously?

There has been debate, just as there was after mass shootings in Las Vegas, Newtown, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs and Orlando, about what exactly is to be done in terms of guns themselves.

While some believe appropriately trained educators need to be armed or an increase in armed police presence should exist on campuses to stop tragedies before the happen, others argue that guns need to be banned, as they have been in other nations, to reduce mass casualty incidents.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd of Florida was a proponent of the former over the weekend calling for the arming of select educators whose backgrounds have been vetted thoroughly, who have been psychologically evaluated and who have been trained in weapons more intensely than state law enforcement.

“It’s not something we want to do — it’s something we have to do,” he said. “We have got to wake up, wake up and understand that we have to have … specially trained people that have concealed firearms that can run to the threat and protect our children.”

This was Judd’s reasoning: “Do you know that there is gun control on every campus in Florida — and, I would submit, across the United States — that you can’t bring a gun on campus? And no one does, except the crazed person, the active shooter. There has to be a line of defense.”

“There’s no absolutes in life, but I can tell you this: At least two coaches were killed standing in front of and trying to protect kids. Don’t you believe it would be a game-changer if they had a gun to defend the children?” he asked.

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Students and parents have responded to the mass shooting by calling for stricter guns laws in Florida, while also urging Congress to act so that the #NeverAgain campaign becomes a reality across America.

Many participating in the campaign seem to agree that they don’t want to arm teachers, preferring “genuine, lasting change” through legislative reform.

Matt Naham About the author:
Matt Naham is the Weekend Editor  for Rare. Follow him on Twitter @matt_naham.
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