We are not in Kansas anymore. The recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn. is a sad example of how our society has transformed and our nation forever changed. We can focus our blame on guns, the government, the media, parenting, mental illness or anything else, but blame keeps us stuck without change. Now is the time to change, regardless of where we start. Everyone realizes now that there is no simple solution and that the problems permeate across so many aspects of life.
We can beef up security in schools with more resource officers, locked classrooms, stricter rules for being on the campus and other security measures, but we also need to be fiscally responsible when considering these changes. The government can pass laws related to guns, but how do we get the media to limit violence in their programming, movies, video games, and music. Do we ban assault weapons? Or do we stop consuming these products and boycott media violence? How about focusing on better screening tools to determine individuals prone to violence?
The area that I feel is most often neglected is mental health, both in funding and importance for our society. A recent Rasmussen Report through a national telephone survey found that 48% of Americans believe more action to treat mental health issues will do the most to prevent violent incidents like the school shooting at Sandy Hook. Twenty-seven percent (27%) think stricter gun control laws will do the most to prevent such violence, while 15% place the emphasis on limits on violent movies and video games.
How about educating our children and parents early on about mental illness, bullying, etc. and teach them strategies to manage their negative emotions and learn new skills? We need to provide parents with workshops on mental health and how to access professional resources. The government needs to mandate that insurance companies change their entire approach with mental health and value quality mental services . Ultimately I believe that education on mental health should be the focus, while acknowledging that the other areas mentioned would also benefit from change. Let’s focus on a game plan for change and make it happen. Next week I will address the changes in our family unit that I feel contribute to our problems.