Monday, June 30, 2014

School Violence: A Real Solution

Bonus Blog #2
Columbine Shooting Security Camera.jpg
We have all seen school violence on the rise over the last two decades. I will never forget April 20th, 1999. I was getting ready to graduate high school, looking forward to the prom, and didn't have a care in the world. Then on that fateful day, the Columbine shooting occurred and it stunned and shocked me beyond belief. I was an 18 year old sheltered, suburban, athletic scholar. It opened up my eyes to the evil in the world; I realized, truly realized, that there were bad people out there that were capable of hurting innocent people. Having been bullied relentlessly in middle school due to being smart, short, scrawny, with braces, glasses, and a perm that didn't seem to want to grow out, I knew what it felt like to feel like life was hopeless, to want to get revenge on those who made it their goal to put others down. Never would I actually even contemplate doing what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did.  
And why didn't I? Well, I was a well-adjusted child who knew better things were coming; in fact, life became so much better as soon as high school started. I can't remember who taught me to look to the future and to turn my cheek to the bullies. Somehow I knew that I was a better person than them, and I knew that these bullies were taking it out on me because they hated themselves in some way. I'm sure it was my parents who instilled these values in me, and seeing my older brother struggle worse with the bullying situation helped me deal with it. But what about the kids that don't have supportive families? What about the bullies who act out by hurting others? Somehow, somewhere they feel as if there is no other option but to take out their anger, pain, and negative emotions physically on others, resulting in such horrors as Columbine.
Many school shootings and violence have occurred since Columbine, including the one mentioned below that occurred on my birthday . Only the media didn't go rampant in the past. Actually, the first reported school shooting was in 1760, and they have become more frequent in the present years (most likely due to the notoriety the media gives the assailants). It is obvious something needs to be done. Everyone has their own solutions but nothing is actually being done. My sister-in-law has started a petition in hopes to make the government do something, and her weapon against violence is education.  

Guest Blogger: Tracy Pucciarelli Borne
December 14th, 2012, was a day that changed me forever. The events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary left me – and many other Americans – feeling completely devastated.  Aside from the shooting itself, what made me feel so hopeless was how that unspeakable tragedy divided this country in two: the anti-gun group and the staunch 2nd Amendment supporters.  After I had asked God a million times, “Why this? Dear God, why THIS?” – the prevailing questions I began asking myself were, “What can I do?  What can be done?”  Many months – and many more shootings and killings – had come to pass before I found my answer.
Fast-forward to April 9th, 2014, when I had just learned the news of a high school stabbing. Again, the questions returned: “What can I do? What can be done?” I thought of my little 7-year-old who was in her first grade classroom at the time.  I had volunteered many times in her classroom, and it was always something that filled my heart with joy.  I began thinking about my daughter’s teacher, Ms. L., and thought what a wonderful job she did every day at not just teaching these children how to read, write, and do math and science, but also at teaching them how to love and accept one another.  I thought about the song they sing every single morning, “My hand says hello, my hand says hello!  Every time I see my friend my hand says hello!”  After they sing the song, Ms. L starts by bumping fists with the student nearest her and says, “Good Morning, [student name], I am so glad you are here today.”  Then that student passes the message onto another, and that student to another, and so on, until the entire classroom has been welcomed.  Ms. L calls her first grade classroom a “first grade family” instead.  There are messages of love and acceptance woven into every facet of her classroom. In doing so, she leaves no room for hatred or bullying.
A common theme in so many mass shootings/stabbings has been that the perpetrator was bullied, or angry, or felt he didn’t belong.  What if these perpetrators had learned the psychology behind bullying, and understood that the bully is suffering a personal hell that is far more than meets the eye? What if those who had bullied and those who had committed these horrific acts of violence had been equipped with the skills of being able to talk about their feelings?  What if they were taught acceptance and compassion for others by having acceptance and compassion for themselves first? What if these people and everyone around them just knew that each and every one of them unconditionally belonged?  I believe with every part of me that the outcome would be vastly different than what we are seeing now.  Well-adjusted children who are comfortable in their own skin grow to become adults who are well-adjusted and comfortable in their own skin.  And that is a gift that keeps giving, generation after generation. This is why I’ve created a PETITION to urge President Barack Obama to make the mental and emotional health of our nation’s students a priority by incorporating mental/emotional health classes into every school curriculum in the United States. It is time we treat mental health and emotional health with equal significance to physical health. It is time we teach the whole child, not just part of him/her. It is time we realize that nothing changes if nothing is done to facilitate that change.
If this PETITION is successful, we will see an incredible future here – and it is bright.  We will see a happier country where each child inherently knows his/her importance, and inherently knows that he/she belongs.  We will see steadily declining shootings, stabbings, suicides, and acts of violence in general.  We will see less bullying.  We will see less alcohol and drug abuse.  We will see kids looking at their classmates as family members instead of fellow students.  We will see love, kindness, and compassion, and a whole lot of it.  Something CAN be done. Things CAN change.



Please take just a moment to make a difference by signing this petition through the link below. Share it around as well. The more people and support, the closer we will be to a brighter future. 

FEDERALLY MANDATE THAT UNITED STATES’ SCHOOL CURRICULUMS INCLUDE CLASSES THAT FOCUS ON THE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF STUDENTS

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