What has worked in the past with school safety is no longer working. We need to upgrade school safety with the times and make schools safe again for our children. I am not a person who gets into politics but I am a mother and have an invested interest in keeping my children safe. I'm all for everyone having their own beliefs as long as their beliefs do not affect the safety of those around them. Today that is NOT happening. I have three issues I am currently trying to figure out a solution for. I need your help, heck the country needs your help!! I have been asking people what I can do to make a change for our community. These school shootings have GOT TO STOP! Enough is enough. Everyone is posting strong opinions on social media infuriated by the current situation. The entire country agrees. These shootings are horrific and every single parents greatest nightmare. How do we make things change in our state and in our country? Putting our feelings of frustration on social media is not enough. Let us all band together and start finding ways to make schools and the community safer for our families.
I see three issues which need to be addressed.
1. Mental Health: It is a national issue. Kids, adults, whoever. We are all dealing with the problems of people not having a stable mental state. All these horrible shootings. This crisis affects every single family. Not just the family of the murderer with mental health issues but everyone in the community. This needs to not fly under the radar any longer. Mental health and having STRONG support in our schools should be part of curriculum at the earliest of levels. This affects every single family in America. Every single child should be exposed to learning skills of coping, empathy, suicide awareness, anger management and the list goes on and on. The school districts just brush over this matter. This is a full blown topic that needs to get full attention. Not just for the kids who make it clear they have problems but for all the kids who hide their issues too well for anyone to notice. For all the kids who feel confident and mentally strong to become aware of those who are struggling and give them the skills to help their peers. We can't just talk about this. We need to make changes. Curriculum needs to change. How many hours do high school students spend memorizing specific skills which they will never in their life use again? Take a fraction of those hours away and apply them to mandated mental health awareness. Doing exercises and practicing these skills in an interactive way. Not just memorizing material to pass tests.
2. Gun Control: Clearly the laws as they are written ages ago are not working in the way they were intended to work. The NRA has the voting representatives working solely on their behalf. The laws today are not protecting us but leaving us completely vulnerable. These military style rapid fire weapons causing mass deaths should never be allowed for sale to the public. There is zero reason a civilian needs a weapon of that caliber. Who can we talk to in our state to start making changes right here, right now? A-15s and anything like them need to be banned. Hunters you are not shooting animals with this gun. Keep your rifles. Keep your weapons that hold only a few bullets for "self protection" and "hunting". Who can we talk to on the national level and state level? Complaining on social media is getting us nowhere. Let us all start doing something to make a change. I would love to hear ideas on this topic of how to make a change nationally and right here in Michigan. Since we can not change the fact that the NRA seems to be able to buy everyones vote in the capital, let us do what we can to protect our children and our educators.
3. School Security: I think an armed security guard (perhaps in plain clothes or completely visible) should be in every single school. Times have changed and we need to change. If we can't keep guns out of mentally unstable individual's hands (through failing security checks during gun purchases) then we need to be able to protect our children and our teachers. I know most Virginia schools currently have armed security at the schools and places like Fairfax County in Virginia have an officer stationed in every high school and middle school. I think it is time that concept goes national! I am doing some research now to see how to go about doing this. If you know of ways to get this idea in front of the decision makers in our schools please TELL ME!! It is not fair to the educators or the kids to be sitting in these buildings helpless. We need someone in each building with the sole job of protecting them.
Who has ideas of steps we can take towards making schools safe again?
We all say if we could do something we would. Lucky for you and me, I met a trained therapist this past week who has been working on the first issue of Mental Health for a few years now. Ryan Beale has created a solution for this and countless other emotional issues kids have to sort through beginning in their school years. Ryan's passion towards fixing this problem in schools is obvious when talking with him. His program is called PrepareU. (Check out the website for this program at https://www.therapy.live/PrepareU) It is a fifteen stage program built right into the health curriculum. The program consists of workbooks, manuals and videos for the students in addition to training manuals and videos to educate the health teacher on how to facilitate the curriculum. This highly interactive program provides potential life saving emotional skills to the students in the school in an incredibly interactive and supportive environment. They actually just ran a course in West Bloomfield with outstanding results. An interview with the school principal is on the website given above. Ryan has been in front of school boards all over the country. He feels in his educated and personal experience of losing his brother to suicide that giving kids the tools to cope through this unique fifteen stage program can literally be life saving. These skills can translate to more empathy, understanding and anger management not just in school but in their home life as well. These are life skills not just a skill to get an "A" on a test. The program is designed to be as supportive as possible for the children enrolled. Unlike a typical class with the kids all in desks facing forward, the kids are in a circle to foster a trusting support group among their peers. No child is looked over. The goal of PrepareU is every high school freshman is required to complete this mandated program and develop these emotional tools from the start. Helping make kids more prepared to face the pressures and challenges which lie ahead. To me it is genius. His office is right here in Oakland County. What an amazing day for me to see someone not just talking about a problem but doing something to make our community stronger!
Many people may respond saying, "Lets just let the kids sign up that need it." But I disagree and here is my very personal example of why. I was never a danger to the community but personally I was suffering. In high school, I was a star on the soccer team, breaking school records and receiving scholarship offers from all over. I had good grades, a boyfriends and friends. Nobody knew inside I was falling apart. I have had anxiety my entire life and coping with my mom's spreading cancer which eventually killed her when I was just twenty two was literally destroying my soul. I was sad, scared and lost. Not to mention I felt completely alone with nobody to relate to. I told myself one day if I ever feel healed from her loss and my sadness, I will do what I can to help others in the same position so they too can learn the skills to help themselves. In meeting the creator of PrepareU, I felt for the first time this is the answer I have been searching for. I never would have signed up on my own for a program like this if it was offered in high school because it would have shown a perceived weakness in my eyes. My sadness was a secret. I wish this program was around during the 90's and I had been forced to attend it in high school. As an adult, I now know there were kids back then going through their own struggles whether it be bullying, abuse, anorexia or just not fitting in. I just did not know it back then. I didn't know I was not the only one feeling so lost. How amazing would it have been if we had all pulled together and were given the tools to support one another! The way I see it today, we could literally change mental health in our community. Not to mention the suicide rates and countless other statistics.
How does this apply to eliminating these horrible school shootings? What if we can reach these troubled kids before they go so far off the deep end and they do something so dangerous to the entire school? The PrepareU program has the definite benefit of offering support to such moldable minds.
Who is interested in finding out more about this? Write me your thoughts. We can address the schools and get this started in them ASAP. It is considered a "multi-faceted program designed to move the needle in mental health." For parents of young kids thinking this might be too far out to concern you...mental health affects the entire community. Let us do what we can to make it as safe as we can for all families. Wouldn't it be nice to have something already in place by the time your kids get to high school. We all hear about the pressures high school kids are facing. I would much rather have it set up and in place working by then! For those with older kids, let us get moving so your kids can benefit from this too!
I ask all of you to please stop only voicing opinions and start doing something to make a change for the better in our community. What can each one of us do to make things better? If you have ideas that can help our community and make it a safer place, I ask you to please share them with a strategy of who we can talk with to make these changes happen. As JFK so famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!" Tell me what to do. I want to help!!
The website again about the mental health approach is: https://www.therapy.live/PrepareU