The role bullying played in the Uvalde school shooting

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author
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The shooter in the Uvalde, Texas school massacre, Salvador Ramos, had numerous strikes against him. He came from a broken home, had an elevated interest in firearms–and access to them–and was a loner. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette has been thinking about his personal story in the context of the tragedy and had another thought about what contributed to Ramos’ rampage:

As the father of teenagers, I thought about my own kids and the grotesque and unnatural ritual of a parent bearing a child. As a Mexican-American, I thought about what it meant that Uvalde isn’t a Mexican town, but a Mexican-American one. It’s full of assimilated people like me, whose family like mine, on my mom’s side, has lived on this side of the border since the Southwest belonged to Mexico.

As someone who grew up in a small town–Sanger, California had 10,000 people, even fewer than the 16,000 in Uvalde–I thought about how you can’t hide in a place like that. But also how strong community ties can pull you through hell.

As a son of a retired cop, I thought about the failures of law enforcement and the tragedy of having 10-year-olds use their cell phones to call 911 with police bundling their response. In a recent development, Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo who has caught most of the blame, justified or not, has been suspended by the district pending a series of investigations into why it took police more than an hour to get past school doors that weren’t barricaded or even locked.

As someone in the political center, I thought about the extremes in the gun debate. The far left and the far right are worthless and always have been.

And finally, as a journalist and storyteller who lives on critical thinking, I thought about how we need to think not just about the easy things, but more importantly about the hard things like bullying.

Family and friends of the shooter Salvador Ramos say the 18-year-old was tormented for several years by bullying from classmates. Ramos had a stutter, and he was picked on repeatedly because of the speech impediment. It apparently caused anger, fueled social isolation, and destroyed his self esteem. Together with a broken home damaged by drug use, the bullying must also have created a deadly desire to reciprocate, to strike out and inflict pain on others and in fact, on the whole of society. Well, mission accomplished.

My wife, who is about to become a speech therapist, wonders why Ramos attacked a school full of innocent children. Maybe he saw those kids as living the happy childhoods that he never had. And he resented them for it.

Don’t get it twisted. Ramos is not the victim here. He did a monstrous thing. And he’s not the least bit sympathetic. But if Americans want to get past the politics, and understand the “why”, so we can stop replaying these horror films, we need to have zero tolerance for bullying and do everything we can to end it. Our children’s lives could depend on it.

Style been a little over a month since a small town that we’ve all the Texas was leveled by devastating tornado of violence, pain and heartache. Only the tragedy is struck on May 24 was an act of God. It was 100% manmade. Naturally, Americans can’t stop talking about it. Too bad, we’re still talking about all the wrong things. Liberals want to talk about gun control, and conservatives want to change the subject, and discuss mental health. So what are Americans going to get around to talking about the root causes of these types of tragedies, including a topic that perhaps hits unknown, a little too close to home? Where’s the national conversation about bullying? I would imagine that most American teenagers fall into one of three camps. Either they’re being bullied, or they’re witnessing bullying, or they’re the bully. The news that two teachers in 19 children at Rob elementary school had been slaughtered and ivaldi by an 18 year old gunman with a military style ar 15 rifle that shouldn’t be sold to civilians. Well, that news broke me to pieces. It also broke me down to individual parts. As the father of teenagers, I thought about my own kids, and the grotesque and unnatural ritual of a parent bearing a child. As a Mexican American, I thought about what it meant that ivaldi isn’t a Mexican town, but a Mexican American one. It’s full of assimilate people like me, whose family like mine, on my mom’s side, has lived on this side of the border since the Southwest belong to Mexico. As someone who grew up in a small town, Sanger, California had 10,000 people, even fewer than 16,000 ivaldi. I thought about how you can’t hide in a place like that. But also how strong community ties can pull you through hell. As a son of a retired cop, I thought about the failures of law enforcement and the tragedy of having 10 year olds use their cell phones to call 911 with police bundling their response. In a recent development, with all the school police chief Pete Redondo who is caught most of the blame, justified or not, has been suspended by the district pending a series of investigations into why it took police more than an hour to get past school doors that weren’t barricaded or even locked. As someone in the political center, I thought about the extremes in the gun debate. The far left and the far right are worthless and always have been. And finally, as a journalist and storyteller who lives on critical thinking. I thought about how we need to think not just about the easy things, but more importantly about the hard things like bullying. Family and friends of the shooter Salvador Ramos say the 18 year old was tormented for several years by bullying from classmates. Ramos had a stutter, and he was picked on repeatedly because of the speech impediment. It apparently caused anger fueled social isolation and destroyed his self esteem. Together with a broken home damaged by drug use. The bullying must also create a deadly desire to reciprocate, to strike out and inflict pain on others. And in fact, on the whole of society. Well, mission accomplished. My wife was about to become a speech therapist wonders why Ramos attacked a school full of innocent children. Maybe he saw those kids as living the happy childhoods that he never had. And he resented them for it. Don’t get it twisted. Ramos is not the victim here. He did a monstrous thing. And he’s not the least bit sympathetic. But if Americans want to get past the politics, and understand the why, so we can stop replaying these horror films. We need to have zero tolerance for bullying and do everything we can to end it. Our children’s lives could depend on it. I’m rubbing my breath in and this is not resignation.


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