I am sure I am not the only person in the blogging world talking about the ridiculous amounts of gun violence in our schools. And yes that bothers me. But the bigger problem I see is how okay we are with it. We watch the news story. We say, “Aww. That is sad.” But then we move on. We take a sigh of relief that it isn’t in our neighborhood or our school. Usually immediately the rhetoric turns to politics, the NRA and the left or the right. Fingers get pointed and we end up closing the dialogue because it is complicated.
It is NOT complicated people. There are families hurting. There is real pain going on. I don’t care about politics. They won’t fix it. I don’t think figuring out more red tape or less red tape on guns will fix it. Looking at mental health issues, changing stigmas and facing the real problems in our society is what will fix this. And that job is so monstrous and arduous that the thought alone makes us overwhelmed.
But there are things we can do. We can notice the people in our communities who hurt. We can know those that live among us. I mean truly know them. Know their names, know their lives without our judgement. And that folks is hard. The answer is never as simple put as that. Stopping this massive amount of violence isn’t as easy as a conversation. It just isn’t.
But why are we not rising up and demanding things change? Why do we turn on our news channel or read the article and just click the x or turn the channel? Then we hope it won’t be us. Why do these statistics not promote action:
Since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been an average of 1.37 school shootings for each school week, according to data maintained by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to end gun violence.
Including Tuesday’s incident at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, 74 school shootings have taken place in the approximately 18 months since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shooting. The average school year typically lasts about 180 days, which means there have been roughly 270 school days, or 54 weeks, of class since the shooting at Newtown. With 74 total incidents over that period, the nation is averaging well over a shooting per school week.
At the end of my school year we had a day tacked on and we went through a new counter violence training. This is a
big deal for me and a big deal for schools using it. No longer are our schools requiring that you sit in the back of the dark corner quiet praying for your life and contemplating how far you will go for your peers or students. No more waiting for that police officer to save you. FYI: in almost every case of school violence all the police did was the clean up and organization after the fact. So now I have officially been given permission to fight back and to make decisions for my students and myself. And I believe that to be a wonderful thing.
But I have to wonder what is next. Is it a gun in my hand? Is it me the “good guy” fighting the bad guy in the way he is fighting me? Well I will tell you right now. A resounding no. I am not for or against guns. But I am completely against guns in the school on the premise to counter incoming guns in the school. I am okay with trained professionals with guns. If that is a resource officer, administration or teacher fine. But I am against me with a gun.
And you ask what exactly it is that I am doing about this problem. How am I really getting to know my community? Well every single year I teach roughly 140 kids. I teach and preach the lesson, “We fight with words.” I incorporate how words create social change and social change creates social movements. So then I am guessing you are asking how words are going to stop a mad and deranged teenager from shooting up his school, right? I am not saying it will.
I am saying that a lot of times students (or people in general) just want to be heard. They want someone who is listening to them and tries to understand. I see it everyday in my classroom. These messages are being sent daily to parents, teachers, counselors and anyone who will listen. You have just got to listen.
It is so easy to get so busy with life grading, moving onto the next thing that listening isn’t happening. Then you are just another person that isn’t listening to what they are saying. Then we move into the issue being a mental health issue. A mental health issues in a country that stigmatizes mental illness. “He’s odd” we say or “she is a psycho” and thus this wall of isolation begins happening.
That folks is the problem. We push away those who don’t look like us, sound like us, talk like us and we don’t listen when they cry. We are the most connected as we have ever been with the social media that exists, but yet people are still not being heard. I have really struggled since my guy’s diagnosis/surgery and sometimes I find myself seeking a voice in a Facebook status or tweet. But then when that status goes up and there are three likes and no comments or no re-tweets or favorites the voice feels less validated and ignored.
Then I sit down and realize I am really just wanting a voice out there to tell me it is okay and honestly that is not the right way. It is talking to someone who will listen. It is seeking out the right people and places to do that. But we have to be listeners. We have to want to hear it. My teaching philosophy is thoroughly instilled with people finding their voice through writing and speaking. It is about finding their audience.
I am doing what I can. I can’t say I will save my school or save my own children from violence on my proclamation. But I am saying I am trying. Are you? And I am not saying I am okay with another school shooting and changing the channel. Are you? #lovealwayswins