This morning–as I was yesterday–I find myself glued to the television, watching in mourning with the rest of the country about the senseless murders that took place yesterday in Uvalde, Texas.
My heart breaks for all of those families of the deceased and the survivors who witnessed these murders. The community will never be the same. What should be said, however, is that America will never be the same.
But I highly doubt that.
There have been so many school and public mass shootings over the past few decades, each one that should have been a launch point to DO SOMETHING to protect our children. To protect our communities.
The solution isn’t necessarily gun control; the solution is addressing mental health issues in this country.
I’m not a gambling person, but if I was one, I’d bet that no one would argue with the fact that mass murderers are mentally unhealthy. Many of these murderers, after being identified, are said to have been isolated individuals, strange, weird, etc. Use whatever pronoun that you want. I’ve never heard any one of these killers being described as active in the community, upstanding citizen, charitable, etc. No. Their behavior was outside of the norm of our society and raised cause for concern. And yet, nothing is done.
Mental health care in America is sorely lacking. Teachers in schools have a battle to fight in calling out potentially problematic students. On the one hand, fear of lawsuits from parents or retribution from supervisors hangs over their heads.
In my own experience as a parent, there was a time when a young boy was identified as a drug dealer and in need of help due to poor self-esteem and a propensity for impulsive (and dangerous) behavior. I met with the school team and their words are quoted in my book, Shattered Mirror: “We can’t expel him because his parents will complain.”
His parents will complain. That’s what they said to me.
Today, this same young man reportedly lives in a high-rise in Philadelphia, dealing drugs and ruining lives of countless people. His contribution to society is zero beyond ruination and destruction. But the Morris School District chose not to do anything about it.
The same type of situation occurs with children experiencing mental issues. Even if the school identifies a child, they have to fight the parents (who might have active inertia to the problem) or, if the parents try to get help for their child, are faced with long wait periods, high expenses, or even non-existent quality and/or affordable care available to them. This is a fact.
How can we ever expect the tragedies to end when we cannot–or, rather, do not–address the root cause: mental illness. Whether it is teen suicide or mass shootings, we need to come together as a country and begin to offer training for teachers and coaches to identify problematic behavior. We need to have crisis plans in place to deal with those individuals, regardless of the sensitivities of their parents. We must protect the children. We must protect the public.
Guns do not kill people. PEOPLE kill people. Get to the root cause of identifying these people before they kill, not afterward. Get them the mental help they need to prevent the killings. Stop glorifying the killings online and in the media. And while we are at it, get the habitual criminals off the street. Too many innocent people are being killed by career criminals walking the streets. When the criminals have more rights than the innocent, the system of justice is off-kilter and in desperate need of adjustment.
The bottom line is that these killings must end. Our government needs to do something to ensure that this never happens again. Unfortunately, I suspect that this will not be the last school shooting because of the active inertia of our leaders who are afraid of making the painful decisions and necessary changes to stop the killings.
Peace to Uvalde. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.