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Tag: oxford high school shooting

Careless Adults Take Note: 'Children Will Listen, Children Will See'

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn.”

At his death late last month at the age of 91, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was praised for writing for character rather than the hit parade. Playwright Arthur Laurents, who worked with him on several productions, once said that Sondheim “writes a lyric that could only be sung by the character for which it was designed.”

However, the audience for his work is everyone.

At this moment, the words of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods sadly resonate in a country where children are learning the wrong lessons from adults who should know better.

In Michigan, family, friends and classmates are mourning Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, killed in an attack in a place that should be safe — high school. A 15-year-old was charged in the murders at Oxford High School, and in a rarity, his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors said was behavior that made them complicit.

Guide them along the way

Children will glisten

Children will look to you

For which way to turn.”

According to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald and authorities, the parents bought a gun that their son called “my new beauty.” Mom spent time testing it out with him and texted him, “LOL I’m not mad at you … you have to learn not to get caught,” when teachers found him searching online for ammunition. Perhaps realizing too late the seriousness of the tragedy her son is charged with unleashing, she allegedly texted him, “Don’t do it.”

When the shooting started, Dad called authorities to tell them it could be his missing gun — and his son.

Both parents met with school officials the morning of the shooting and were advised that his behavior warranted counseling within 48 hours. But they apparently resisted taking him home or getting him the “help” the accused asked for in a disturbing note.

The teenage Kyle Rittenhouse was judged not guilty in Wisconsin and walked free after killing two men and seriously wounding a third. His mother, Wendy, was never charged and has said she didn’t really know what he was doing the night he traveled to Kenosha to patrol the streets holding a weapon. But where was the judgment of a parent who, according to prosecutors, accompanied her teen son to a bar where he and Proud Boys drank and celebrated? Come to think of it, where were the voices chanting “What about the culture?” and “Where is the father?” — questions always posed when a youth of color does far less than shoot and kill two people?

New Normal

For years, because of pressure from the NRA, gun rights groups and lawmakers, federal money for gun research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “advocate or promote gun control” pretty much dried up. Now, some research funding has been reinstated, just when studies are showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the impact of the U.S. gun violence crisis.

Very few Americans are denying anyone’s right to own a gun — for protection, for hunting, for target practice. But is common sense too much to expect?

Where indeed was the sense or the empathy when, just days after the Oxford High shooting, Rep. Thomas Massie posted a holiday photo on Twitter, with family members of all ages smiling while displaying guns. The caption: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”

The Kentucky Republican’s tweet got some support but also criticism, including from Fred Guttenberg, a gun control activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the 2018 Parkland high school shooting in Florida. In response to Massie’s message, Guttenberg tweeted a photo he took of his smiling child and another image of her gravesite.

Bad Choices

One lawmaker moved to outrage by the Michigan school shooting was Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, whose speech just after he learned the news was certainly informed by his passion for stricter gun control laws and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in his own state that killed 26 people, including 20 little children. “It happens here, in America,” he said, “because we choose to let it happen.”

Will more parents and lawmakers be as outraged over school shootings that are becoming shockingly routine as they seem to be about teaching children anything about America’s sometimes violent history and teaching Americans to do and be better?

Acknowledging facts, it is charged, could ruin a child’s innocence.

These are children for whom active shooter drills have become as much a part of the curriculum as English, math and chemistry.

At Oxford High in Michigan, as a classroom of terrified students hid, there was a knock on the door, and from the other side came a voice indicating that he was a friend, not a foe. The suspicious students did not believe him and decided to take their chances by escaping out of a window instead.

It turns out it really was law enforcement knocking. But who could blame the high schoolers for their lack of trust in people who are supposed to know best, who have promised and failed to protect them?

These children — and to me they are children — lost their innocence a long time ago, if they ever had it.

“Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you.”

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer, and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. She is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project and host of the Equal Time podcast. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Targeting The Socially Deviant Parents Of School Shooters

After the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, then-Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, evaded calls for banning weapons of war. But he had other ideas. The "more realistic discussion," Rogers said, is "how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"

Tightening the gun laws would seem a lot easier and less intrusive than psychoanalyzing everyone with access to a weapon. But to address Rogers' point following the recent mass murder at a suburban Detroit high school, the question might be, "How do we with target the adults who hand powerful firearms to children with mental illness?"

The parents of Ethan Crumbley presented their clearly troubled 15-year-old with a high-powered weapon. He is charged with using the semiautomatic handgun to murder four students at Oxford High School.

This is hardly the first case of parents enabling a sick child to act on his violent fantasies. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the 20-year-old who killed 27 innocents at the Connecticut elementary school, left an unsecured Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle at her tidy house. Nancy was Adam Lanza's first victim.

Laurel Harper had previously placed her son Christopher in a psychiatric hospital, but that did not deter her from keeping unsecured guns at their home. Christopher brought six of them to his 2015 rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine students died.

Both Nancy Lanza and Laurel Harper were divorced women left to single-handedly deal with children tortured by inner demons. But rather than steer their sons away from the gun culture, they both dove into it.

Nancy would go to bars at night and brag about all the guns she kept at home. Laurel, a nurse, spent long hours on forums, her subjects alternating between her son's mental illness and her gun collection.

"I keep two full mags in my Glock case," Laurel swaggered online. "And the ARs & AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." She criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.

Concerning disregard for the lives of others, no one would beat James and Jennifer Crumbley. The school called them in after Ethan was found having drawn pictures of a gun, a bullet and bloody figure with the words "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me."

They came in but refused to take Ethan home. They wanted to get back to their jobs.

The day before, the school informed the parents that their son was found searching online for ammunition. Jennifer responded by sending an insanely supportive text to Ethan: "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

When these details emerged, the parents took off to hide from getting caught. They now face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

The central focus of the Michigan horror has rightly moved from a mentally ill high schooler to his socially deviant parents. Which leads to these two questions:

Aren't parents who keep loaded weapons in a home shared by a disturbed child with violent obsessions themselves mentally twisted? And what could be done about them?

A woman had reportedly told investigators in Connecticut that she overheard Adam Lanza say he planned to kill his mother and children at the elementary school. She even called the local police. But since Nancy Lanza, not Adam, owned the weapons, the police couldn't take them away.

If police had removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun rights fanatics would have exploded with outrage. How dare you go after these noble defenders of the Second Amendment?

Besides, it's easy to identify mentally ill people who use firearms, right? It's certainly easy once the massacre is over.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Parents Of Michigan School Shooting Suspect Charged And Arrested

(Reuters) -The parents of a Michigan teenager accused of murdering four fellow high school students were taken into custody on Saturday, a day after each was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the campus mass shooting.

Authorities began searching for James and Jennifer Crumbley after Oakland County prosecutors announced the charges on Friday, saying the Crumbleys bought the gun for their son as a Christmas present and then ignored warning signs that may have presaged such a massacre.

Detroit police said in the early hours of Saturday that they had taken the couple into custody.

The police found the two at what "looked like a residential building," Detroit police spokesman Rudy Harper said.

"We arrested them," Harper said when asked if the parents turned themselves in, adding they were trying to escape when they were caught.

Detroit Police Chief James White told a news conference the couple had not broken into the building where they were arrested, but had been let in by somebody.

The couple's 15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley, is being held without bail and has been charged as adult on suspicion of carrying out the deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021 on Tuesday at Oxford High School, about 40 miles (60 km) north of Detroit.

Crumbley's parents were expected to appear for a Friday afternoon arraignment but stopped responding to calls from their attorneys, according to Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe, prompting a search by the Sheriff's Fugitive Apprehension Team.

After they failed to appear, the U.S. Marshals Service said it had taken on the case and was joining Oakland County officials in the search.

"The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement on Friday. "They cannot run from their part in this tragedy."

Even so, lawyers for the parents issued a statement on Friday saying they intended to return for their arraignment.

"They are not fleeing from law enforcement," attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said.

Gun Purchase

Four days before the shooting, Ethan accompanied his father to a gun shop, where James Crumbley bought a 9mm handgun, prosecutors said.

Ethan posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, "Just got my new beauty today." The next day his mother posted that the two of them were "testing out his new Christmas present," Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

McDonald detailed a number of other warning signs that she said the parents failed to act on.

On Nov. 21, a teacher found Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone. His mother later texted him, "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

On the morning of the shooting, a teacher discovered drawings by Ethan Crumbley that depicted a handgun, a bullet, and a bleeding figure next to the words "Blood everywhere," "My life is useless," and "The thoughts won't stop - help me."

School officials summoned the Crumbleys and instructed them to get Ethan into counseling within 48 hours, McDonald said. The parents "resisted" the idea of taking their son home from school and did not search his backpack nor ask him about the gun, she said.

After the Crumbleys left the meeting without their son, Ethan Crumbley was returned to class and later walked out of a bathroom with the gun, killing four students and injuring seven other people, authorities said.

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Reuters staffEditing by Sonya Hepinstall and Frances Kerry)