Tough choices needed to make sure Sandy Hook doesn’t happen again
Today I’m going to do what pretty much every socially responsible columnist has done all week: write about the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If you expect great insight or a list of solutions from me, you might be disappointed.
As a parent, burying my own kids was (and continues to be) my worst nightmare. I lived in dread of that call in the middle of the night that there had been a wreck and that, well, you know what can follow after that.
I’ve got five grandchildren and one on the way. The oldest is a 6-year-old first grader. Just like those kids at Sandy Hook. Something happening to one of them is unfathomable. It simply cannot happen. God, please take me instead.
Those teachers and that principal that rushed to help? HEROES.
So are the law enforcement officers, the EMT’s, and the firemen who rushed in. The horrors that will inhabit their dreams for the rest of their lives are indescribable.
I’m really glad today that I don’t have to drop a child off at school tomorrow and the tomorrows after that. I’m not sure I’m strong enough. I would want to barricade them at home and keep them there safe forever.
Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora, Colo., For the next few months, a lot of people will try and figure out what to do about all these horrible episodes. I think we all have to expect some changes in our lives.
Could more School Resource Officers (SRO’s) help? I would think so. I know I feel safer when they’re on duty.
Greater security in the schools? My wife worked in a local elementary school for several years and she said that her school was quite secure but if someone wanted in bad enough (as in bad enough to shoot off the locks), they could get in.
More gun control? I don’t know. I don’t understand the need for the general public to own assault weapons but it does seem common sense that if you make guns illegal that only criminals will own guns. I also know that this boy’s mother should never have had enough of an arsenal to take on a small army. In her home. Accessible to her mentally ill son. And her son was most certainly mentally ill.
Improved care for the mentally ill? Most assuredly. We have a huge and largely unmet need for mental health services. Most of our homeless are also mentally ill so we can help two problems at once.
Some have called for quicker and broader institutionalization of the mentally ill. We currently have 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Let me put that another way: In America, we have 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of those behind locked doors. I don’t think bars are the answer.
Should our families be more responsible, more accountable? There is little doubt that this was a dysfunctional family. Dad was apparently out of the picture and Lanza’s brother hadn’t seen him in over two years.
Less violence in our everyday world? Surely. What used to be tasteless has become commonplace. Things that are morbid and downright horrific have become a normal part of culture. Profanity in public has become acceptable. Too many of us seem to seek the darkness instead of the light.
What we need are people ready to make tough decisions. From parents that say no to leaders that leave partisanship at the door. From people willing to give up individual freedoms to better protect those most vulnerable to reasonable, rational, practical thinking by all of us.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)