The problem with school safety is put in front of us again as media covers grieving families and communities. Then the news trucks leave that location. Where will the next tragedy occur?
Humans look for cause and effect to explain painful things we do not want to be repeated. Sometimes the problem is so complex that we cannot seem to agree as to the cause and argue about what the remedy should be. The answer is to start somewhere, anywhere, to address what is in our control to change.
One common cause is that we have become so desensitized to violence in all of its shades that we no longer take seriously obvious signs of trouble. A lack of civility to the school bus driver, derision of teachers and school staff, disrespect for law enforcement, a culture of victimhood and a collective chip on our shoulders—these are attitudes that undermine our right to feel safe. We need to put all of our video games and devices on pause for a moment and look at who sits across from us at the table.
Unhappiness is not hard to spot. Dangerous behaviors are not hard to spot. Disdain and hatred are not hard to spot. Lack of self care and self respect are not hard to spot. Hopelessness and addiction are not hard to spot. But we will never see them if we are not looking and do not find the courage in ourselves to address trouble instead of leaving the issue to someone else lest we seem to be prying or a busybody. And, then, if we look for help for someone at risk, we must follow up to be sure that that help is given. We must demand of our elected civil servants enough accessible and affordable mental health care to be ready to address the need.
We can only be safe if we are awake and willing to take action in our own small spheres of influence, beginning in our families. Letting it slide and hoping for the best is not working. The answer to violence, again, begins with ourselves.