Last night I watched a substance abuse panel where an articulate, passionate, young man who identified as an addict in recovery stated that as far as he could see there was no way to have prevented his opiate addiction. Two nights ago I watched a group of students advocate for stricter gun laws and learned that our country’s leader believes the answer to mass shootings in our schools is to arm teachers.
Something is missing. And something is very, very wrong.
What’s clear to me is that while less guns or drugs on the street won’t impede the end of these epidemics that are plaguing our younger generation, in no way are those going to solve the the problem. Because the problem is so much deeper than access.
Our kids are lonely. Our kids feel more connected to the mini computer in their pocket than their best friend down the street. Our kids are so addicted to immediate gratification that they would rather post an incriminating video of themselves on snapchat than think about the implications to others or even themselves. Our kids can’t tolerate silence or quiet and are desensitized to the constant beeping or vibration of yet another notification. Our kids can’t talk about their feelings because they lack the skills to even identify what emotion they are experiencing.
Our kids need help.
I don’t have all the answers and I realize that these issues are deeply ingrained and need long term, systemic change. However, what is clear to me while working with teens every day, is that our schools lack the money, support, and resources to effectively protect our children.
The fact that the notion to spend money making sure that a percentage of teachers are well trained in firearms is actually being considered while kids refuse school/hate school/are afraid of school because there aren’t enough counselors to check in with and their teachers don’t recognize, understand, or acknowledge their depression, anxiety, or trauma response is astounding to me.
This won’t be easy. And it won’t come free. But if we took a small percentage of the budget from town, state, and federal funds and utilized it to make sure that every child had at least one adult who supported and understood them, to teach basic emotion identification and coping skills at a young age and continued social emotional curriculum throughout education, to make sure every child had a trusted adult they could talk to at a time of need, to educate every adult in the school with the knowledge of identifying warning signs for mental health concerns and substance abuse and how to notify parents of their observations, and to provide parents with the access to resources for their children, and themselves- our children would be happier, healthier, and safer without the need of drugs to ease their pain or guns to express it.