To the Editor:
There will be many reports about the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and endless speculations about the young man who set it in motion (“Shootings Revive Debates on Security,” Jan. 9, 2013). What was done shatters the heart and staggers the mind. It is a story of innocence and potential, of educators and caretakers, humanity at its best; and of evil, come out of seemingly nowhere, to annihilate it all. Aberrations of mankind, as we have come to experience, do not merely exist on our televisions, in faraway lands, or on dark streets. They can be found very close to where we live, work, learn, and play.
Violent, unspeakable crimes have different roots. They are, I believe, partially born of assaults upon the heart and soul—isolation, abuse, abandonment, untreated disease, or dysfunctions that haunt and claim some minds.
We were not there at the school meetings conducted for Adam Lanza. We are not privy to the documents generated by them. To say that anyone with a special need could or could not commit an act born of frustration or rage is to judge without all the data. In addition, individuals can be misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed. Environmental factors and the home-school relationship all play a role in the outcome of such cases. Sometimes there is a perfect storm of these causal elements.
As an educator and a mother, I have cried. I have cried as I light my candles for the children and the educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School with whom I share a strong bond. I also light a candle for our leaders, political and otherwise. I hope they understand that the issues behind this horrific event can be found in any community, in some of our safest havens, behind any door. They can even be found in the heart of the quietest kid on the bus.
The writer is a retired special education teacher and currently works as a part-time reading tutor at the Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker in Hartford, Conn.
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as Many Issues Lie Behind Tragedy at Sandy Hook