Shooting by a 6-year-old raises complex cultural questions

He was six years old in his freshman class in Newport News, Virginia. According to police, he pointed his pistol at his teacher and then he pulled the triggerAnd nationally, people… didn’t quite know how to react.

even in such a country gun violence Sadly commonplace, the story of a little boy with a gun has had a huge impact. There was pointing. confusion. Struggle for an answer. A group that struggles with terribly unpleasant emotions. And the question: How could something like this happen? Where do you put it in the public consciousness?

“It’s almost impossible to comprehend the fact that a 6-year-old first grader brought a loaded handgun to school and shot it. teacherMayor Philip Jones “But this is exactly what our community is working on today,” he said on January 6th.

But it wasn’t just his community, it wasn’t just that day. This is a country full of people who know and say exactly what they think about everything. is listed. In a land full of hot takes, it’s a headache – even Heartscratcher.

Kendra Newton, a first grade teacher in Florida, said:

Maybe it’s because it’s outside of what people are used to. Jennifer Tallarico, a professor of psychology at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, said the incident was a combination of school shootings (there were two elsewhere in the country that day) and society’s expectations of childhood itself. We believe that this case is treated differently because it is against

“Sadly, there are schemas, rubrics and archetypes for school shootings in this country.” , said: “When you use the term ‘school shooting’ as a shorthand, you start playing the story out in your head. When the facts of the case are so different, it’s surprising.” that’s what you should do.”

Americans typically see childhood as the supreme encapsulation of our society and values.Talarico describes things like innocence, fun, joy, and love. , reveals complex issues about the culture and community in which children grow up. Whether it’s a local culture or community, or an entire country.

“It’s hard introspection,” she says. “That’s why this story resonates with people.”

Americans suffer from a scenario that doesn’t fit into any bucket. But as uncomfortable as it may feel, there is a danger in trying to squeeze a case into a familiar framework, says Marsha Levick, chief legal officer and co-founder of the Center for Juvenile Law. say.

She believes Americans have become “trapped in a place of punishment” and have lost the ability to converse outside its boundaries. By adding the word “target,” Revick argues, he’s calling on people to view it as a criminal act.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. It completely contradicts science and what we know about human development and child development,” she says. This was not a criminal act.”

As he admitted more than 20 years ago in one of the few recent shootings akin to the Virginia shooting, Levick admitted to law enforcement that “this is not our lane.” I would like to have one. as a 6 year old boy Shot a classmate dead in Michigan in 2000Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur Bush did not pursue the boy, but the people who provided access to the gun.

In an interview last week, Bush said he was surprised by the repeated use of the word “intentional” by Newport News police.

“When I heard the police say it was on purpose, it was like putting my finger on the blackboard,” he said. “I wouldn’t call him intentional when he’s six….He’s not old enough to have intentions.”

Bush, who later became an attorney and retired in 2018, remembers visiting the boy at his group home and chatting as he squashed him in a child-sized chair. I showed He smiled and was found to be missing two front teeth, and he talked about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

“He was excited because he knew he was going to get candy,” Bush said. “It was clear he wasn’t plotting a diabolical plot. He was a typical little kid. He was almost a baby.”

Bush remembers being stunned when he was told about the 2000 mass shooting. “I couldn’t wrap my head around it,” he said.

“The only thing the boy can do is get him out of the situation and find the best place for him,” Bush said. “This kid has probably never seen love in his life. We as a community had to embrace him, love him and protect him.”

The Virginia case is sure to spark a debate about gun control and school safety. Anyone who has a problem can take some simple steps. She says numerous studies show that the best way to support a child’s development and promote resilience is to give them a sense of belonging.

In short, don’t let the shock numb you. Take steps to care for children in your community.

“It’s not a big commitment. It’s just about knowing the kids, knowing their names, and giving the impression that you can ask them if they need help.” “When neighbors are shocked and choose to stay calm without thinking about how they can contribute to their children’s well-being and safety, they are sending the message that their children are not valued,” she said. increase.

Whether all the reflections around the Virginia shootings will lead to change remains to be seen. Tallarico, whose job it is to study the “memorial words” surrounding big events, says that commands like “never forget” always lead to drastic action, especially when it comes to guns. says there is no limit.

“‘Never Forget’ doesn’t effectively translate to ‘Never Again,'” she says.


Denise Lavoie, an AP writer from Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.