Beautiful Boy

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, I remember thinking a lot about the parents- maybe because I am a parent. It was not that my mind was not consumed with the sadness of all of the lives that were cut short or that I didn’t grieve for the parents and families of the students and teachers who were killed, but I just couldn’t help it.

What were they going through? How were they going to move forward? Was anyone ever going to let them move forward? I recalled the parents seeking help for their son and even committing him at one point, but to no avail. Even still, I don’t think that they could have ever imagined what was to come.

Beautiful Boy. I watched this movie recently. Had never heard of it. The plot is a boy who kills fellow students on his college campus, then kills himself. Details are different but very similar to VaTech. However, it takes the perspective of the parents, in the aftermath. It is heart-wrenching and I recommend it. It truly questions our humanity and what role the parent plays in this unprecedented act of violence.

I think it is natural to have anger toward and even blame the parents- someone has to take the blame, right? But in the absence of neglect, abuse or some other wrong doing of the parent or other childhood trauma, is that accurate or fair. Still, I can not begin to understand the pain of the slain students’ families or how you begin to piece together your life again. As a parent, I don’t even want to think about it. However, when it comes to blame in the real-life version, there was enough to go around. The university, our laws, the gun industry…

The good news. We seem to have learned a few hard lessons. Address students/youth who are troubled, listen to staff when they have concerns about students, create and/or tighten campus security and emergency plans, lobby to change laws and… maybe, just maybe understand that the parents may need some compassion.

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