I don’t know how many school shootings it will take before we as a country wake up and realize the kids are in trouble and many of them are crying – metaphorically – for help.

Ethan Crumbley, a high school student from Michigan for 15 years in this world, apparently had emotional issues. A teacher was confused by a drawing the boy had made which showed a gun, a bullet and a person who appeared to have been shot. There were also some handwritten messages on the drawing. One of them said, “My life is useless. The other: “The world is dead.

Screaming, I say.

After a meeting with counselors and his parents in which mom and dad categorically refused to bring their son home, Crumbley, as ordered, picked up his backpack and returned to class. It was there that he pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and shot his classmates. Four died. Six other students and a teacher were injured but survived. It is the deadliest school shooting since May 2018.

The father had bought the gun a few days earlier.

For the record and for context, there have been 30 school shootings this year, 22 since August 1. Since 2018, there have been 88 school shootings. The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have broken the trend line. The figure for 2020, with 10 shootings, was significantly lower than that of 2019 and 2018, which each had 24.

But, yeah, save this year, and we’re not even halfway home.

How are your children? Check them out lately? Did you ask? Did you have a good heart to heart where you do most of the listening?

US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy on Tuesday released a public health advisory on mental health issues facing young people. Editor’s Note: Advisories are generally reserved for important public health issues that require immediate nation awareness and action. What we have in our hands here, Murthy said, is an emerging crisis exacerbated by the difficulties of the pandemic.

And it comes quickly on the heels of a study that found that Generation Z children – ages 13 to 24 – feel the stress of the pandemic more than any other age group.

The survey, released Monday, found higher proportions of Gen Z claiming the pandemic – separation, social isolation, learning through Zoom, staying home, loss and lack of employment – had made their education, career goals and social life more difficult, compared to millennials and millennials.

Without a doubt.

Almost half of Gen Z respondents said it was harder to maintain bonds with their friends, and 40% said romantic relationships had become difficult, if not impossible. And, according to the survey, no other age group was going through the same thing.

Of course, kids experience anxiety on top of what can already be a wave of depressing disappointments – with grades, social rejections, and essays or entire seasons gone bad.

I mean, for the past two school years, almost every day, most athletic competition, every workout was touch and go. Forget about making important decisions in life. Go to university? To sit in a dorm and attend classes virtually? The pandemic wasn’t just creating a whole library of detective stories about what the next few months would look like, kids couldn’t even comprehend what the rest of the week would entail. Because adults, too busy arguing on social networks, could not either. Prom or not? Prom? Graduation in person? Would there be a theatrical performance at school? You know, like all the other classes? Can we have a group? Choral? Crossing the stage to get a diploma? Will there be a reception? A state athletics competition? A party with friends in the end?

How about just hanging out?

And how about having the courage to ask that special someone on a date? Would they be allowed out of the house? In a mask?

Can I still fit into these special jeans?

Before an adult can step in and say those goddamn kids just need to pull themselves by the emotional boot straps, let me assure them they’ve never, ever stepped in these moccasins. Children are experiencing unprecedented trauma. So, first, be nice. And second, listen.

Back then all I had to worry about was that there was gas in the tank and I had enough coins for a movie and a pizza afterwards. Maybe a row or two of bowling.

Now our kids are training for an active school shooter. And it all started long before this pandemic made their lives almost impossible.

So listen carefully.

The children are screaming.

– J. Damon Cain is Editor-in-Chief of the Register-Herald.

To reach him, send an email to [email protected]

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