School shootings. I’ve written about this before. Everyone seeks to explain, discover a cause, so they know who or what to blame. But we created this. Are we mature enough yet to admit this?
Let’s look at the environment we have raised the Millennials and Centennials in, those born after 1995:
They’ve grown up with horrific violent scenes on TV, movies, and video games and adults tell them this is entertainment.
Their parents were told institutions can take care of their babies while moms can go to work for fulfillment, leaving early forming brains to those who don’t love them. The first 3 to 5 years of a baby’s life their whole world view is shaped as either a scary place or a safe place. When work is necessary it is best to place them with loving relatives.
They are more and more separated from the natural world and the essential learning, problem solving, and wonder that comes with interacting with it.
They are often fed food lacking in nourishment; food that is so far from its natural state it’s lost its life-giving properties.
They are often prescribed drugs with questionable benefits and disastrous side effects.
They learn its OK to live in virtual worlds of screen time; it is fine to reduce in person time with friends and communicate in short bits of messages, cutting out invaluable information from body language, voice fluctuations, facial expressions, and the sheer, palpable energy exuded by the other person. This is important information that teaches the child essential skills in interpersonal relationships.
And apparently, we ignore many warning signs of young people in deep distress, who need attention, treatment, and love.
We have a knee jerk response to look outside of ourselves for what the cause is, guns, laws, law enforcement, but we really need to look at our culture, too, of which we have all been a part. Hollywood has continually increased the graphic violence with a myriad of weaponry in the films marketed to children. The horrific, brutal games have desensitized our children. And these same groups are so quick to condemn gun laws when young people act out these violent acts.
We evolved over millions of years to grow up testing our physical bodies, exploring the natural world to discover the natural laws ourselves, and when we find danger to have that loving parent to run back to. We then learn how much we can do, how far we can push ourselves, which results in confidence,
When I was growing up I was sometimes gone from the house for hours, exploring the world, climbing trees, building forts with the neighborhood kids in the woods, making up elaborate games where each child had a position or a job, getting lost and figuring how to get home, falling off my bike, falling off a horse, clumping through vast stretches of deep mud, seeing how far I could push my body, collecting bottles to take to the store to buy a piece of candy, building huge snow animals in my backyard, and so much more.
I learned we are part of this world, and that the world is an exciting, enormous place full of contrasts and surprises and that I could handle myself in it.
When my children grew up in the 70s and 80s, they peddled down the road into unknown territories, went up to the store on their own those few blocks, camped, explored caves and underwater reefs, also having diverse experiences in the world.
I worry our children now are growing up, for the first time, in an unnatural environment, void of exploration, of sinking their feet in the dirt and playing in lakes and streams, getting out in the sunshine, getting caught in the rain, seeing and hearing the sounds of animals, watching the wonder of nature play out in front of their astonished eyes.
The experience of living and interacting in the natural world is an important component of what we call, wellbeing. I don’t know how we find wellbeing without it. Being in nature heals the soul. It certainly isn’t found in a screen. No wonder anxiety, depression, and suicide is rising to never before levels among the young today.
We can begin to help them by limiting screen time to an hour or less a day. Studies show this reduces depression and anxiety. And get them outside.