After every school shooting, gun brought to school or disruptive behavior at a school event, the search begins for blame. Mental health, social media, gangs, alienation, poor parenting, the list goes on. Yes, all of those may be causes, and every individual case should be examined. But where is the discussion of prevention beyond more police in schools and locked doors?
Limiting access to guns, universal background checks, more monitoring of on-line social sites are all recommended. They are also very hard to implement in today’s political environment. Government intrusion is feared more than the lives lost to violence.
One simple strategy is available to all of us who are willing to take the initiative. Every child needs someone to talk to him or her every day. The interaction may be brief by a homeroom teacher or a mentor, but it has to be more than just taking roll. Every child in a family needs to be talked to every day. It may be hard with both parents working and kids hiding with their computers in their rooms, but the old family table for a meal or chat has to return.
And neighbors need to keep an eye out and speak whenever possible with children, especially teens, in their neighborhood. For a community to be safe, everyone should know their neighbors and be willing to speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
Our children are all our children. Our future, no matter our age or station in life, depends on today’s youth. If we don’t speak up to acknowledge and guide them, who will?