The triggering factors
Many are the questions that will never be answered; doesn’t matter how many years go by, how many explanations are found to justify the unjustifiable… How can a human being, armed with weapons, leave home with the sole purpose of killing? Indiscriminately or with specific targets?
Much has been discussed about the reasons that may be creating the appropriate “broth” that creates the news of shootings in supermarkets, universities and schools that continues to multiply.
The USA is at the top of the ranking when it comes to this type of crime and the ease with which weapons can be accessed is indicated by many as the main reason to justify these horrendous acts. However, there is always another component – that which relates to the construction of the mind of those who commit this type of crime.
In our conversation with Aime Hutton, Mental Health and Youth Diversity Advisor, LGBTQ Youth Coach, from the online platform PsyMood, we tried to understand how society can prevent more crimes of this nature from occurring. How can we – all of us as beings that relate to each other in a certain community – contribute so that these events start being increasingly rare or, ideally, disappear? There is one certainty that remains amidst the chaos of unanswered questions – mental health is not something we can neglect. Never!
Milénio Stadium: What factors should be considered when raising a child in order to avoid situations like this?
Aime Hutton: There are a few things that come to mind for me. For one, teaching children about kindness, respect and conflict resolution.
Teaching children about kindness helps children to be reflective on how they interact with each other. Are they using kind words to other kids? Are they being helpful to those they see at school?
Teaching children about respect also includes teaching about diversity and inclusion. Respecting their teachers, the kids around them, and respecting themselves. Teaching children about other cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. This shows children that everyone is different, and everyone deserves to be respected and heard. The final thing that I suggest that can be taught to children even as young as 5 years old is a process called S.A.L.T. This stands for Stop, Ask, Listen, Talk. The example I like to give to children is if another child in the class calls them an unkind name or makes fun of them because of what they are wearing they are to Stop. Stop moving, stop talking and look at the other child. Make eye contact. Then ask a question. For example, why do you think my shoes are ugly? Next is Listen to the answer. Maybe the other child does not like the colour of their shoes. Finally, Talk. Talk about it, have a conversation. Maybe the child will learn something new about the other. Parents and others who work with children and youth need to let the child know they are a safe person to talk to. That they are there to listen and if needed, steer them to safety.
MS: What is the role of parents? What message is conveyed when weapons are given as gifts (whether as a joke or not)?
AH: The role of the parents in this situation is education, education, and more education. Teach your child about guns. They are not toys. Teach safety in regards to guns. Teach your children that guns can kill or seriously injure a person, or an animal.
Here in Canada, there are very strict rules and regulations around obtaining a gun license. Which would allow you to buy a gun.
Personally, I am not a fan of guns. Yet I have a couple of friends who go hunting and have rifles in their home that are double-locked, with the ammunition in a different area of their home.
When weapons are given as gifts I feel there better be a very, very, good reason. I also feel that weapons should not be given as a joke. Guns and weapons are not to be joked about.
MS: It is often said that most cases of armed attacks, such as those which recently occurred in Texas or Buffalo, are also strongly linked to the type of content found on the web. Whether they are encouraging racism or violence. If so… what is there to do?
AH: Violence towards racism is an ongoing global battle. People can be influenced in many different ways on the internet, which sometimes can lead to negative shared beliefs. It is natural to want to belong and be influential to anyone who will listen. When such extreme ideals are believed it is hard to see the world in a positive light. The best prevention for any future attacks is to educate the community at a local level. Set an open environment of equal opportunity and diversity and educate society that we are all human beings.
Overexposure to online bad news and social media can greatly impact your mood and mental health and therefore consuming it in moderation is another important thing to consider. If you are struggling with your mental health during the COVID pandemic or for any other reason, PsyMood continues to provide professional mental health support to help you cope with any challenges you may be facing. With professionals that understand your cultural background and are tailored to you.
MS: On the other hand, the characterization that can be made of the majority of the aggressors in attacks of this kind is that they are almost all young, male, and almost all of them use the social networks to: either announce what they are going to do, or even do the live broadcast. What can be concluded from this?
AH: Mass shootings and the aggressors who decide to commit an act like this require an expanded body of well-funded interdisciplinary research that is informed and implemented through the sustained engagement of researchers with affected communities and other stakeholders in gun violence prevention. If this current scenario suggests that a specific type of individual is more likely to commit a mass shooting, then this is something we should consolidate over the next few years, based on research.
At PsyMood, we recognize the need for mental health support in all cultures and languages in hoping to reduce the stigma about mental health, which in turn we believe can reduce the number of mental health crises, suicides and violent acts across our country.
MS: Donald Trump stated, regarding this latest attack (Uvalde), that the best way to defend ourselves from a bad man with a gun, is to have a good man with a gun. What comments can you make on this statement?
AH: As an organization that has in its mission multiculturalism and diversity, we believe in peace, love and understanding. Using violence to fight violence will never be something that can positively build a healthy society.
For anyone who is struggling with mental health and feels like they are at their lowest point, nothing is more important than actively looking to improve your mental health in healthy, attainable ways. Furthermore, it’s important for those who are suffering from suicidal thoughts, and depression to have access to assistance and therapy.
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