“School shooting in Texas” is four words to stop you, frozen at the moment, and your heartstrings are pulled. The number of injuries, loss of life, the individual or individuals involved in the shooting makes no difference. It is the four words no mother, father, grandparent, or educator wants to hear ever.

Then the media storm begins. The violence at Uvalde, Texas, with the school shootings at Robb Elementary, left all of us with more questions and seeking answers. Comments, pointing fingers to blame, a retelling of stories, the first stories were incorrect; these are the correct facts, more finger-pointing and it continues with comparing to other shootings. Then here comes the solutions, the same as the previous shootings. We need gun control, armed guards in the schools, mental health, and the list continues. Please stop and pause for one moment.

All I can hear and see are children laughing in the playground. They are swinging on the swings. The girls have their hair blowing in the wind from the swings, and the boys are busy hitting balls out into the field. I see children being children. School is ending for the summer break, and children are preparing to enjoy all of the summer fun. My heart strings are pulled as I know those who have fallen to this senseless act of violence took the innocence of this sacred time and lives away. It stole the childhood innocence of many who experienced the noise of the gunshots, screams, cries, and the trauma no one can claim to understand.

Real Soultions

Stop all of these political agendas on both sides to find the real solutions to the issues at hand. So let me just go through the list of the things I believe we can review, reinforce and respond to appropriately.

I brushed the surface of the solutions for the violence we are seeing transpire across our country and especially targeting our schools. I want to focus on families and communities as well. This is an issue with not one solution to solve the problem. It is not to have stricter gun controls or address mental health. We have a deep system of layers to address this issue more profound than the surface solutions we often try to address quickly, so we can say we did something, move on and place it on our list of accomplishments for the following political add. No thanks. I want to drive the deep solutions to systemically solve issues to save lives, create positive environments, help families and improve communities. I can’t, you can’t, but we can together work to establish better systems, accountability of the laws, offer services, and commit to improvements overall.

Our heartstrings are pulled, and we react. Then the conversations begin to fade as fast as the seasons change. The swings at the playground echo the laughter of children who want to be kids. Can we all work together to solve these issues, so the heartstrings pulled are the ones that bring big smiles.

In 2021 there were at least 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds resulting in 21 deaths and 47 injuries nationally, according to Google. This is the count from my search on September 27, 2021.

New York Times headline on September 24, 2021, reads A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021. The shootings never stopped during the coronavirus pandemic; they just became less public, researchers say. Written by Daniel Victor and Derrick Bryson Taylor

The debates always come down to the guns. However, we have looked at this problem so long we consistently fail to see the solutions.

“Students who commit shootings in K-12 schools are more likely to have a long history of rejection and lack a sense of belonging than are mass shooters in college and adult settings—but they are less likely to have experienced a sudden breakup or showed bad behavior that can serve as a red flag for administrators.” Education Week, September 8, 2021, A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection by Sarah D. Sparks

The Journal of Social Psychology, which compared the characteristics of 57 shootings on K-12 campuses with 24 college shootings and 77 mass shootings in other places since 2001, concluded the results provided in the article. In addition, it is reported there have been 15 reports of on-campus school shootings since the start of this school year.

The problem-we are failing to provide solutions to our mental health services, relationship building to support feelings of belonging and self-worth. We have placed social workers, school psychologists and even contracted with outside agencies to add additional help, but we are still not meeting the needs.

The ratio to the need and the trained staff exceeds disproportionately. Then when you look at the community resources, the need is extremely high compared to the availability of services or extended-care facilities.

In my career, I worked closely with those helping to provide the services needed to the community we served. Each year the needs seemed to grow, and resources shrunk. After I left my school setting, it was not long that I heard a news report of a young teen female stabbing a man to death in a housing project.

What is the solution?

If I came to visit your place of work, could you introduce me to everyone by name and tell me about them?

Seeing my former boss reminded me of the relationship-building he did as people stopped by. He knew their name and stories about them. How validated they felt by the time they left.

One comment from one of his visitors was about loyalty. Loyalty is indeed built when individuals feel safe, respected, valued, and part of something.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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