A Wisconsin sheriff has released an open letter to his community in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, imploring parents to take a bigger role in their kids’ lives.
Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt opened his note by explaining how he regularly asks himself, “What has happened to our society?” after every mass shooting unfolds. This, he said, leads him to consider potential solutions.
Speaking of a time when mass shootings were less frequent, Schmidt said he believes there “must be a root cause that we are not addressing that has led to this change.” And while the media is focused on gun control and student walk-outs, he said he simply doesn’t believe there are easy solutions to the gun violence problem.
Schmidt said gun control will simply “place a very small Band-Aid on a much bigger problem” and encouraged society to have a deeper and broader discussion about viable solutions.
“I think perhaps we are not evaluating the true root cause which is obviously very complex. We must make efforts to change our society as a whole,” Schmidt wrote. “It’s my belief that the root cause starts with our youth lacking basic skills including respect for authority figures like parents and teachers, the ability to cope with conflict and the ability to handle rejection.”
He continued, “Further issues like mental health and alcohol/drug use also play a role, but column length restrictions limit my ability to cover all aspects of the root cause today.”
Schmidt encouraged parents to teach their kids to respect authority, for society to reintegrate discipline and for parents to support teachers’ disciplinary decisions rather than defaulting to automatically defending their kids.
He also lamented “participation awards,” which have been handed out to make kids feel good, yet have perhaps eroded their ability to handle rejection.
“While no one wants their child to ever be disappointed or upset, when they are young, they need to face conflict and disappointment and learn to resolve it appropriately under the guidance of adults,” he wrote. “It is part of developing their personality and dealing with conflict in the future.”
Read Schmidt’s letter in its entirety here.