Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preventing Violence in Schools and Elsewhere – What Will it Take?

As a nation, we have mourned together this week after the shooting in Newtown, CT where 20 young students and 6 adults lost their lives. I’m sure I am no different than anyone who has read all the various posts on Facebook. Many have been an outpouring of support and comfort for those left behind to grieve but others are seeking to place the blame on something, in an effort to find some measure of understanding and make sense of this senseless tragedy.

I don’t think we can ever truly make sense of tragedies such as this, and it’s much too soon to really know the reasons why this fairly young boy himself walked into Sandy Hook Elementary that morning and took the lives of all those innocent people.

I would think every school shooter, or perpetrator of similar type of violence, is probably motivated by and for different reasons. I seem to be reading a few main discussions, however, as causes and/or ways to prevent such violence from happening again, such as gun control, media and video game restrictions and increased school protection. Who knows if gun control would have prevented the tragedy on that terrible day? Maybe he would have gotten a gun anyway. Or maybe he would have made a different type of weapon even without a gun. And whether research shows negative consequences to children in general or not, do we really know if media or video games impacted this particular child in a negative way prior to that terrible morning? I have yet to hear if he ever played a video game in his life. And locking schools apparently isn’t an effective security measure as this school’s doors were locked 20 minutes prior to him entering the school on that morning.

Again, I know it’s hard to make sense of something so senseless and people are just trying to understand something that is so illogical. But what I haven’t read and what does make sense is knowing and understanding that despite the fact that this young man, the shooter, did something so unimaginable, so heinous, so evil, that he himself must have been suffering from something unimaginable to walk into a school and take the lives of so many innocent people – especially 20 children. As a society, until we focus on that issue, that suffering, and that area of prevention, we will never be truly focusing on the prevention of school and community violence and these kinds of events are likely to keep happening.

The task force report presented to the Attorney General this week reported on the need for children to grow up in homes with safe, stable, nurturing relationships, without exposure to trauma, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, etc. If we have any hope that children will grow up and not become young adults that commit these types of heinous, senseless acts, it is incumbent upon each of us as adults, as parents, as citizens to be a part of the village that raises children within these safe, stable, nurturing relationships. For more information visit

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all the victims of this and all tragedies of school and community violence. We long for the day when there are no more innocent victims and no more perpetrators who have suffered from something devastating enough in their past to somehow feel that this was an answer to end their own pain.

For anyone suffering, there is help. For anyone interested in prevention, there is information available.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network is the best place to start and they have compiled many of their resources into one location in response to the recent shooting.

The Centers for Disease Control/Injury Center on Violence Prevention has many resources available on this topic. Please visit their website and learn more about preventing youth violence, school violence and more.  Here are some links:

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