Help Prevent Tragedies Like Newton, Conn.


If every family in America steadfastly prohibited hitting, kicking, and shoving among siblings and curtailed any form of physical aggression toward their children and spouse, violence would become unthinkable.

4. Be an approachable parent.

When your child feels hurt, lonely, disappointed, angry, jealous or even full of rage, you want to be a parent who listens, doesn’t judge, shows empathy, and helps your child work through strong feelings in a peaceful manner. None of these killers turned to their parents to share their rage. They turned to guns.

5. Know the warning signs of mental illness.

A parent’s instincts are often right. You can sense if your child is out of synch with peers.

A depressed child may socially isolate him/herself, lose interest in prior activities, have trouble sleeping, or sleep too much, exhibit hair-trigger anger responses, have shifts in eating patterns, or express thoughts of self-hatred or self-harm.

A teenager with schizophrenia may temporarily lose touch with reality and have great difficulty with interpersonal relationships, general functioning and self-care.

A child with anti-social behavior lacks empathy for others and consistently places their needs above all others. Cruelty to animals is a big red flag.

Mental health assessments are confidential. Treatment is covered by most health insurance plans now. Seek help for your child so their quality of life can be optimal and get help before it’s too late.

Adam Lanza reportedly left his home only on rare occasions for the last two years. This indicates a decline in his mental health. It does not appear that his parents sought help for Adam. Instead, one of the most horrific crimes in our history was committed.

6. Curtail bullying behaviors.

You must monitor your child’s behavior toward other children in-person and on-line demanding that name calling, taunts, threats, social isolation and mean-spirited gossip be stopped.

Some of the assailants of school massacres were targets of bullying who took their sense of powerlessness and transferred it to the supreme power of slaughtering innocent people in revenge.

Schools, of course, must partner in the elimination of emotional and physical aggression of children at school.

7. Mentor a child.

Not every child is blessed with a happy, healthy family. Positive attention from even one caring adult can make a significant difference in a young adult’s life. Consider mentoring a child so every child can feel valued and cared for.

Working together at a micro-level in our own homes will make a difference. One family at a time, we can make progress in becoming a peaceful nation where children can go to school and come home safely each day.


Toni Schutta, Parent Coach, M.A., L.P., has 18 years experience transforming families so kids and parents can feel extraordinary love, joy and encouragement that will last a lifetime.