Save Our Children From Domestic Violence Attacks
BY CATHY C. WHITE
Editor’s Note: This essay was submitted by GRAND reader, grandmother of nine, Cathy White. She wrote this after several tearful nights following the Sandy Hook school shooting. She revised it briefly after the Parkland shooting. Discouraged, Cathy White states, “No one wanted to listen to her then and nothing has changed.”
We are listening and we sure do care which is why this has been posted to www.grandmagazine.com.
The most powerful nation in the world is poised to protect itself and to assist other nations in their fight again terrorist attacks but continues to struggle on a domestic security front with what to do about gun control and gun violence against our children. Yes, we seem to be at war from a domestic security standpoint. In Florida, we can “stand our ground” and protect ourselves from all those we believe are threats to us, but what about the innocent children that we should all be protecting. What was once thought to be a faraway battle for someone else to worry about has come homeland to our schoolyards and public venues through and to our children.
Regardless of the reason, whether it is due to mental health illness which may cause an individual to carry out a school shooting, or bullying which often uses bodily force, or cyberbullying which creates emotional instability, feelings of hopelessness, and paranoia in the minds of our adolescents; as our nation watches the war effort is growing on a front where there is already physical confrontation resulting in casualties in the thousands. The domestic war is very real and has real casualties. American children that have the potential to be future leaders of their communities and country are dying needlessly on the home battlefield.
While there is no one single solution to providing a resolution to this problem we can look at providing some short term and long term recommendations to answer the question that the world is asking – what can we do about this problem – or how can we help.
With a renewed nationwide awareness and caring about this critical issue and knowledgeable individuals and organizations sharing a common priority to solve the problem of keeping our children safe, it is time for a call to action, for us as a nation to realize that our children are considered to be an “at risk,” “vulnerable” or “special needs” populations. Further, for us to realize that children under the age of 18 comprise a large percentage of the U.S. population, so with so many suggestions from so many sources – how do we start to solve this gigantic problem?
Recommendations from the writer of this paper who has 40 years of experience working for state government, which allowed the opportunity to work with the state legislative process, foreign consulates, heads of state leadership, safety and security and emergency management, and finally K-20 campus safety professionals suggest the following:
While hands-on training and experience was gained primarily from one state, work has been done with various state safety and security professionals, as well as other disciplines throughout the country and findings and recommendations, would apply nationwide.
To save our children there must be a national preparedness initiative committed to enhancing community readiness for an emergency and to better prepare schools, businesses, federal and state government leadership as well as nonprofit leaders to work effectively together during a safety and security crisis.
It must include leaders that are willing to learn skills needed for effective action during times of crisis and to build organizational connections to strengthen community preparedness for responding to and recovering from any type of emergency.
It must be proactive, not reactive. A response is not enough; student safety must come first and must be a priority – not an afterthought. We must be able to prevent violence from occurring within our schools and communities. The solution must not only include school physical security enhancements but must start with a focus on the overall school safety culture.
We must look at gaps in capabilities and meet the unique needs of our children in federal, state and local emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery activities.
Efforts to make the sweeping changes that are needed must be coordinated from the top down. Our efforts must be supported by federal, state, and local leadership.
Additional Specific Recommendations:
While we have a core concept we will need to develop a full analytical report by utilizing the expertise of a comprehensive task force to include at a minimum representatives from federal and state legislative leadership, school district personnel, truancy officers, school resource officers, mental health counselors, social services, juvenile justice, legal, community action and law enforcement representative, charged with providing recommendations for the enhancement of safety and security at public and private kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools (K-12) campuses as well as higher education institutions.
Curriculum for Training of School First Responders – the administrators, teachers, and staff that are on campus all day, every day caring for our children
Exercises and Development of Best Practices
Ongoing Training and Staff Development Exercises due to turnover
American’s must be united against this very present domestic threat and must be proactive by addressing this issue with a planned and coordinated effort not responding after the fact when a tragic incident has occurred or when a media event is being covered. The domestic security of our children is a serious issue that requires serious and immediate action. If we do not do something now more domestic attacks will come to our schoolyards and beyond to our children – the only question that we have for certain is when.