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Teacher demands all parents "step up" in wake of latest school shooting

“Be the parent that actually gives a crap!" says the Florida teacher in a post that has been shared more than 700,000 times.

By Fiona Baker

When Florida teacher Kelly Guthrie Raley posted her own heart-felt, pull-no-punches commentary on Facebook about the latest US high school shootings in Florida in which 17 people were shot dead, she hit a global nerve. Almost 700,000 personal shares and 200,000 comments later, the world has weighed in on her post, particularly her focus on the role parents play in the escalating gun violence in US schools.

Sure, the US gun laws make it super simple for teens to get their hands on semi-automatic assault weapons which are made purely to kill. And yes, there are obviously flaws in a system in which background checks don't reveal documented issues with mental health. And, of course, everyone can also point an angry finger at President Trump.

But it's a Facebook post from a middle school teacher, and her bald-faced suggestion that parents must also have a think about how they raise their kids, that has so fully resonated in a country that already this year has had 18 school shootings.

"STOP being their friend"

Here's some of what Ms Raley had to say about parental responsibility:

"Parents: it's time to STEP UP! Be the parent that actually gives a crap! Be the annoying mom that pries and knows what your kid is doing. STOP being their friend. They have enough "friends" at school. Be their parent. Being the "cool mom" means not a damn thing when either your kid is dead or your kid kills other people…"

She talked about her parents and growing up in a home "filled with guns".

"My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior (sic) from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules."

Parenting styles and research

While America continues to debate what it is that has led to this increasing violence among young people, it's also way too simplistic to harp on about "back in my time" and "the good ol' days". But there is quite a lot of research around about how parenting styles play a significant role in behaviour of children when they're younger and grow up to be adult

Just last year, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch found that 68 percent of adults surveyed who were smacked in childhood were more likely to be physically aggressive towards their partners as adults.

"While parents may think this form of physical punishment is a good lesson, substantial research indicates that it does way more harm than good," said the studies senior author

At the other end of the parenting scale, overly permissive parenting has also been found to cause problems. Several studies over the past 10 years have found that the kids raised by permissive parents can display more aggression and less emotional understanding and may be more at risk of delinquency and substance abuse.

A report written after the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage shooting in Connecticut h looked at all the factors contributing to this escalation in school shootings, and while it stated clearly that there is "no single cause", the report discussed family environment.

Researchers said children with "close attachment bonds with consistently supportive caregivers" and experienced "effective and developmentally sensitive parenting" had a lower risk of youth violence. This report very clearly did not support what it called "harsh" parenting though.

Here's Raley's full post:

Yes, parents can only share in the responsibility. In what would should a 19-year-old man be able to easily get their hands on a semi-automatic assault rifle? But this is a post that put the gun laws debate on the backburner for a moment, put parents and society at the front, and it's got people talking.