What “special” means

In the day following the brutal attack against the elementary schoolchildren in Newtown, CT, before I’ve heard details on whom and what and why, I found myself awake before 5am with something to say based on what little I knew.

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that something needs to be done to stop people from going into public places and attacking our own citizens, young and old, in schools and in theatres, in malls and at work. I’m not arguing for gun control. I’m arguing for people control and instituting consequences for one’s actions whenever anyone needs it, no matter his age or her special label.

Watching President Obama brush his tears from his eyes yesterday, I saw more than grief in his face; there was anger rumbling beneath his jaw. I can’t say how, but I’m sure that he wants to make strides to stop unnecessary violence like this. Now, my opinion may not be popular or politically correct, but as a teacher and a parent, I’ve got to say that learning right from wrong must happen early and enforcing right from wrong must happen continually.

IF this incident were committed by a Special Needs young man who resented his mother, a teacher who loved her classroom full of children who read, listened, wrote, and learned, then PERHAPS if he was forced into a regular classroom where the teacher(s) had overwhelming responsibilities to meet the needs of 20 or 30 differences, and he would have been able to get what he had needed in a special class run by a teacher trained in Special Needs, he might have felt some success and not the jealousy of those who find it more quickly than he. PERHAPS if his Special Needs label weren’t confidential and kept from those who could’ve sold him weapons that made his environment more unsafe, then PERHAPS someone who had trouble with right from wrong wouldn’t have been able to carry out delusions or misdeeds.

Furthermore, we have to stop handing out “Get out of jail free” cards to people with special labels. Behavior can be modeled, taught, practiced and expected. I’m not saying mistakes can’t be made; however, if there are consequences in place, consequences that are tough and consistent, the behavior can be learned. And for those who say, “Not always,”– well, then those people need to have special placement that will limit their freedoms from citizens who know how to follow societal expectations. I know not all citizens who CAN follow the law actually DO, but then, again, they must pay the same consequences as any other citizen.

We have to stop saying that someone didn’t know any better, and let it go. Without a consequence, how will that individual EVER learn right from wrong? He won’t. And, then someone else will have to live with the consequences. And, that’s not right or fair.