There was my mistake. Letting my 5 year old use his best judgement. Just two days ago, Sunshine is begging Monster to build her a gun. Monster tries explaining to me that it's not really a gun, it's just a laser and "how else are we going to kill the bad guys?". We talk about how it's not OK to take a life, even if it's a bad guy (here's where it's not black and white and unfortunately Monster sees all the shades of grey, but I stick to it for now). Monster gets on board and turns the "guns" into flashlights so they can spot the bad guys, but Sunshine is in hysterics because she wants a gun. Monster keeps trying to explain that the flashlight is better, but she's not buying it.
Then we start our day with news of a school shooting. Some people may think this is harsh, but I use this as a teachable moment. I show Monster the article. I explain what happened. I explain that this is why we don't play guns. I explain that guns kill people, innocent people. I explain that police have guns and soldiers have guns, but they are trained how to use them and they don't like having to use them. I talk about how children should NEVER play with a real gun. I tell him that if he ever sees a gun at a friend's house, he must immediately tell an adult. I tell him that if a friend ever tries to show him a real gun, he must immediately tell an adult. I explain that children don't understand how to really use guns and don't understand the dangers so accidents can happen, and the accidents can cost people's lives.
Now some people reading this may be saying, "Guns don't kill, people do". True, but why are we putting guns in the hands of people who will kill? Yes, there are circumstances where guns are needed, but that's the grey area I was talking about. When you're 5, you don't need to know all of the grey area, that will be covered later in life. I believe that we have desensitized our children against violence. Video games have been more violent. Television has become more violent, including cartoons. Even books have become more violent. Yes, maybe all these things are fighting the "bad guy", but the amount of violence used to fight the "bad guy" has increased. It's become graphic bloody. I think back to the books I read as a child. The closest thing to violence was a book where the princess had to fight an evil king, and it wasn't graphic. I showed how she used her intellect to take him down. Then I look at books I read in high school. They were nothing like the books kids are reading now. I'm currently reading The Hunger Games Trilogy. It is meant for high schoolers. It is bloody and graphic. I'm loving it, but when I think about it's target audience, it makes me sad. Why has it come to using violence as entertainment? What kind of values are we instilling in our children? Or is that the problem? Are parents so detached now that they are leaving it up to media to instill values?
There is no easy answer and no easy solution. When it comes down to it, you just need to remember to love your children. Tell them everyday how much they mean to you. Hug them. Never take them for granted because it's a cruel world.
*** I am beyond sad that I have to add to this just two days later....Here is an email I received from the Superintendent's Office of our district this morning.
Today at  Middle School an incident occurred with one of our students in a classroom that resulted in the student being removed from school and the police being notified. The incident involved a verbal threat by the student that was considered serious in nature. The threat referenced the recent incident that unfortunately took place in Chardon, Ohio. In light of that terrible tragedy, the District and the  Police Department decided to error on the side of caution and are in the process of thoroughly investigating the matter. Please understand that due to the age of the student and student confidentiality laws only limited information may be shared with you at this time.
However, we do want to reassure students, parents and families that the  City Schools takes all threats seriously at all times and will not chance the threat of harm to any of our students or faculty within the school system. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to take the time to reiterate to your children that the incident that happened in Chardon is extremely serious. Making jokes, threats or any other inappropriate comments regarding the incident or anything similar are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
We will continue to work to provide an atmosphere that is safe for all students, staff, and families that enter our doors. If you should have any questions, please feel free to call the Superintendent's office [...]