What Can We Do? – Dealing With Tragedy

I woke up on Friday morning and thought I would write a blog post about the Christmas traditions at the BGM house but then I turned on my computer and saw the news. Shooting. Elementary school. 20 killed. Children. I let out a loud gasp and Marathon Man looked at me from across the dining table and said quietly,”Yeah, I know.” The boys then immediately asked both of us, “What?!?” I told them I didn’t really know, but I saw on the computer there was a massive shooting at an elementary school somewhere in Connecticut. “Oh” was there complete and simple response. That response told me they too were upset and not quite ready, like me, to hear the whole complete story. So I went on facebook, reposted George Takei’s response and stayed off the computer the entire day.

I know I am not the only one devastated and I know the pain I feel is nothing compared to those in Sandy Hook. I feel so lost, so angry, so wanting to do…something?  I see the posts of my friends on facebook and how they are responding, better gun control, more security at schools, improving mental health services. I know there is no one right answer to this. That’s too bad because we would be so relieved if it was that simple to fix. I’m going to get kinda serious and heavy about these topics now so if that’s not what you want to read, it’s a good idea to stop right here.

Gun control – I truly believe the Constitutional right about “right to bear arms”. I also believe this country has too many guns and loves violence. Again on facebook (because the news feeds are too real, I’d rather hear it from a friend) one of my friends posted this article about America’s Gun culture. It’s true, we love our guns. We view our guns as protection from a government becoming too powerful. Our guns show our independent American way. I believe we should be allowed to have them. But how many and what kind and for what purpose?  It’s a question we’re maybe too proud as Americans to ask, but we need to start having this discussion more and sooner not later.

Security at school – At the end of the school day on Friday my boys’ high school sent out an email informing the parents of the security measures at their school. All of the gates are closed during the day and the one way in and out is the main gate by the office. There is a security officer who makes you sign in and take a visitor pass. He or she does not have a gun but there are police officers on and around campus that can be called immediately if there is a situation. And yet… it still could happen, couldn’t it? The gunman forced his way into the school. Two adults confronted him at the school. The security was there, it just wasn’t prepared for a person going into the school with the intent to maim. If the administrators and teachers had guns would they have stopped him? If I go back to teaching next year and I’m allowed to have a gun would I get one? I know if teachers were allowed to have guns (How awful) I know most and I mean 99% would not carry or use one. A teachers purpose is to teach, not enforce the law. Our goal is to provide hope and educate, not instill fear. I hate even writing this idea down but I’m sure some kook will think it’s a great idea.

Improving mental health – Before I was a teacher I worked in an afterschool program that helped students deal with their  problems. I was not a counselor but I listened and I tried to help. If situations got too serious, and yes there were a few, we would talk to the counselors of the school or even call Child Protective Services. Now there are still counselors and the CPS, but those other groups outside of the classroom that help kids who just need to talk are gone. The way I see school now, it’s like a student needs to do something really crazy before something is done. You would think a student whose mother died when he was 6, lives with his grandmother and sees his alcoholic dad only every other weekend should get some support outside of the classroom, right? The teachers at my school last year thought so too and constantly referred and emailed the counselors about this student’s behavior. When he finally got in the 4th fight on campus he was transferred to another school. That was the solution.  Our mental health system in the school now is nonexistent. Counselors do not have enough time to help those students until their behavior becomes a really serious problem. Putting out the fires is the expression used for how we are dealing with problems in schools recently. If a student is quiet, a problem gets unnoticed. Did the young man in Sandy Hook seek out help? Did his mother not see the signs of violence? Where were his friends? We are scared to talk about the brain as being sick and diseased because mental illness is sometimes very hard to figure out. We need more people to figure it out, not deny we are getting sick. More cancer research, more heart studies, and yes more funding for mental health services too.

So what to do now? What are you going to do personally? Do you send money or a card to the victims families? Do you pull your kids out of school and now homeschool and never let them leave the house? Do you throw all your guns in a pile (you have a pile of guns?) and vow to destroy them? Do you vote or sign a petition to increase the mental health services for everyone? I don’t know the answer for you, but here’s what I’m going to do.

Marathon Man works in laws enforcement so we have guns. I use to think I should get training and practice shooting so I would feel comfortable with guns in the house. I realize that I am not comfortable with guns, I will never use a gun, and I am not going to change my views on that. Should an intruder enter my house I would never aim a gun at anyone. Guns are bad for civilians in my opinion. Law enforcement now have more firepower because the bad guys have more firepower. I worry if MM comes home a little late or does not call. At Sandy Hook, there would have been so many less killed had there not been guns. Period. When I go back to work I will teach and I will help. Teachers are lifesavers in more ways than one as we have seen with this tragedy.

Finally, I feel time travel doesn’t exist or when we have discovered it we have become cold heartless beings. Why? Because someone would have gone back in time and done something , anything to make sure Dec 14, 2012 was not a tragic day in America. I’m sorry, I’m going to cry again now. God Bless us, everyone…



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