No, Lax Parenting Is Not to Blame for School Shootings
By MELINDA WENNER MOYER
In the wake of another horrible school shooting, this one committed by a 19-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle, many in the pro-gun crowd have rallied around a new talking point: Guns aren’t the problem—lax parenting is. Apparently, lenient moms and dads are rearing child murderers because we’re unwilling or unable to discipline our kids.
I was introduced to this theory by a friend of a friend who posted Thursday in a Facebook comment: “Do you really think this is about guns? It’s about establishing expectations with your kids.” Then I did some searching and found this Facebook tirade that has been shared more than 415,000 times, which among other things blames the “lack of discipline in the home” as a cause for our country’s rampant gun violence. Some even advocate hitting children as a solution: “We need to whoop the shit out of our kids like our parents did to us.” Between 8 and 11 p.m. yesterday, friends of mine shared dozens of examples of similar sentiments that had popped upon their social media feeds.
These arguments are hogwash. For one thing, none of the reports that have tried to detail shooter Nikolas Cruz’s life suggest that he was the product of effusive parental coddling. His adoptive father died years ago. The New York Times reports that before his adoptive mother’s death in November, she had “called sheriff’s deputies to the house numerous times in an effort to keep Mr. Cruz in line.” His school had expelled him for disciplinary reasons. Cruz clearly didn’t commit mass murder because he was treated like a precious flower. His tragic family background may have contributed to his anger and loneliness, but there’s nothing to suggest he was a sheltered child.