The Sikh Temple Shootings: Teaching Our Kids Tolerance

By GalTime Parenting Pro Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy.D.

After the Sikh Temple shooting... After the Sikh Temple shooting... teaching our children about tolerance

Sunday's attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, which killed six and critically wounded several others, is being acknowledged as a domestic terrorism, more commonly referred to as a hate crime.

The contrast between the joy of multiple victories at the Olympic games currently being held in London and this summer of shootings in America is indeed stark.

How can we explain these vivid images to our children?

How do we reason that under the guise of love for country this self-proclaimed white supremacist, a veteran of the United States Army, could calmly march into a house of worship and open fire?

In an era where the Internet has given new meaning to freedom of speech it is difficult to deal with the darker side of what this freedom means.

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The shooter was reportedly a member of a white supremacist heavy metal hate band who maintained an online presence .

Perhaps these shootings will result in parents listening a bit closer to the rhythms and rants of their own children's music.

Blaming the music is, of course, not the answer, listening to those types of songs is in reality a symptom.

During the teen years it is natural for parents to slowly let go as their kids seek autonomy and independence. Letting go, however, should not mean letting loose. It is often during these formative years, on the road to identity, that kids make detours and sometimes get derailed.

It is, therefore, even more important for parents of teens to be alert, aware, and available. Toward this end, a recent study found that teens who grow up grateful are happier and less likely to become depressed or engage in acting out behaviors.

America was a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal. America has always served as a haven for the persecuted regardless of race, religion, color, or creed.

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In this moment, in faraway places around the world, people are fighting wars both across borders and within because of these defined differences.

We teach tolerance to our own children, quite simply, by practicing it ourselves. On a greater scale, we can rein-franchise the disenfranchised one individual at a time.
It is up to each of us to respond when we see or hear messages of hate. We cannot, however, respond in kind, fighting fire with fire.

This approach will only bring darkness and death.
We live in complicated times. When we all stand together in tolerance, however, we send the message that we all shall indeed overcome.

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