Our Children Under Cover…

I am an educator. I teach children the skills to be literate, math literate, scientifically literate, geographically literate, and socially literate. I am teacher, counselor, friend, parent, and bodyguard to 120 students every year. That’s right. In the wake of nearly weekly school shootings, every day that I step foot in my school, I am signing on to be my students’ protector. I do it gladly, hopeful that my own children’s teachers feel the same. What is happening across America, an all-out assault on our schools and the people inside, is not a school problem. It is a societal problem.

Let’s start with parents in our society. I am one. I have two teenagers. You better believe I took a lot of time and energy, many hours of talking and listening, and still do, to make sure my kids have the tools they need when they reach rough spots academically and socially. When I see the slightest change to my kids’ appearance, demeanor, attitude, I check in. Not with, “Are you okay?” That will only get me a quick, “Yeah, I’m fine. Geez!” Instead I tell them they seem a little off. I ask them what’s going on, and wait patiently for an answer. Why? Sometimes those answers are long in coming. Parents need patience when dealing with kids and their issues. Parents need to be persistent and consistent with the time and care they give their kids. 

When I hear about the students who’ve shot and killed others in their schools, about how they were loners, on the fringe, detached, possibly bullied, I think to myself… where is the parental support? Folks, it’s time to stop bullying the public education system and start putting responsibility first where it should go- on the shoulders of  US, parents. The education system is simply that. Academic. Due to the growing numbers of  parents lacking parenting skills, though, the system is now considered a surrogate, and must also include socialization to its list of curriculum. Teaching values, morals, social and emotional skills used to be OUR parental job. In my opinion, it still should be. But our schools must provide this kind of education because we have an ever-growing population of parents who were never taught by their parents either. We have hordes of families in our society that may live under the same roof, but have no emotional connection to each other whatsoever. So, rather than  parents asking the tough questions of their kids and being responsible about their mental health, they let them  slam the bedroom doors and isolate themselves, repress their anger, and let depression consume their entire being.

Now let’s add another layer onto this systemic problem- mental illness and a major reduction of government subsidies for programs. Some of these shooters have had a history of mental illness. Being a Psychology major in college, and keeping up with the field, I have read articles over the years about government funding being slashed for the sake of  balancing state budgets. The impact of these reductions is staggering, with group homes closed, valuable programs cut, and resources hard to find.  What are parents to do?! “These costs can be exceptionally large over the lifetime given that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that two-thirds of children with lifetime mental health problems never receive treatment. This takes substantial emotional and financial tolls on individuals and families, as well as the broader society. However, programs that address the mental health needs and provide services for youth show better outcomes in health and education that carry over the lifetime. For example, in the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, therapy is being used to curb youth violence, especially amongst those with behavioral and mental health care needs.” (Mental Health Loses Funding As Government Continues Shutdown, Nicole Fisher, 10/2013) Cutting mental health programs opens a societal wound that cannot heal on its own, and plays a major role in the assault-on-schools crisis.

One final layer to add to these shocking crimes is gun control. I’m not afraid to discuss this here because I do believe we can all agree that we’ve got a huge problem. I believe in our right to bear arms, absolutely. I ALSO believe that if I want a gun, as is my right, I can exhibit patience while my background is checked thoroughly. Every person, no matter where a gun is sold (store, gun show, fair, online sales), should be required to wait for a background check to be done. And gun control doesn’t stop at a law, folks. How many shooters from these school shootings took a gun from their parents? RESPONSIBILITY is the issue. I have the RIGHT to bear arms, and I also have the RESPONSIBILITY to keep my guns protected and locked away from my children.

The picture above is of a product  made of the same material as bullet-proof vests. These children are practicing personal safety in a school, using the blankets to protect them against a crazed shooter running rampant in their school. It’s not just a picture mock-up. It’s a real product and being considered by some districts. It’s a band-aid for a symptom, not a cure for the disease. IS THIS WHERE WE ARE HEADED, PEOPLE?! If so, it’s a frightening future for our schools. Something must be done now. A shooting every week. That’s our current statistic. Look here: http://everytown.org/article/schoolshootings/ 

 

SCHOOL IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SAFE HAVEN FOR OUR CHILDREN. I shouldn’t live in fear as I drive to school each day, wondering if my school or my children’s schools will be the next target, and neither should you. 

 

*Just a warning to those who may want to post comments on this piece… I welcome your comments. I will not tolerate disrespect of any kind. Healthy debate is one thing. Bashing another’s ideas is another, and won’t be tolerated. Any threats made, both overt and veiled will be reported to the authorities. Yes, this is the world we live in unfortunately. 

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. Brilliant piece. You nailed the issues right on the head Deena. Kudos! I’d say more, but you’ve already covered everything I have to say, only you did it more eloquently. Thanks.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      God bless ya, Allan! Thank you. Big hugs!

  2. Gail Delaney says:

    Deena, this is a great article because it provides the teacher’s insight. I appreciate the fact you believe the responsibility for much of this lies with the parents, not the teachers.

    It reminds me of when my daughter was a senior. She had issues with a particular teacher, and as things escalated, we learned he was a problem for many. He was disrespectful, prejudiced… you name it. But I know he is one in thousands. The point is when he made a particular situation difficult (not allowing her to make up a test she missed during the only time she’d been out of school all year), we stepped in to resolve it.

    He confronted her at school the next day, demanding to know why she had brought her parents into the situation. Her answer? “They are my *parents*.”

    She knows, and my son knows, we are in their corner. It makes me sad so many other children don’t know that feeling of security. It makes me sad teachers must consider their lives on the line to go to work. It makes me sad teachers have died protecting their students, but it also makes me proud we have such wonderful teachers.

    Thank you for this.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      Thank YOU, for supporting your kids the way you do, and for acknowledging the changing roles of educators today. I also want to acknowledge your frustration with a particular teacher. It makes me livid when I hear stories like this. AS you know very well, these always overshadow all the great teachers doing wonderful things for our kids. HUGS!!! 😀

  3. I was just discussing this with my co-workers yesterday…it’s a lack of parenting that’s causing most of these problems. I also agree completely on your views of gun control.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      Thank you, Lauralynn! It takes a village, YES! But that doesn’t mean parents give up all responsibility… 🙂

  4. Judy DV says:

    Well said, Deena.
    Sadly the family unit is not what it was in the days of Leave it to Beaver. Not that they were always perfect back then either.
    We have a lot of Band-Aids being used while the wound is still infected and doing who-knows-what under those bandages.
    Yup, they forget to clean the wound out first.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      Yes, yes, and more yes, Judy! 😀

  5. Judy DV says:

    You made me realize something else, Deena. I am more tuned in to cop shootings as we have a young friend who is on the force. I never thought about how many teachers we know that are in the line of fire as well these days.

    We homeschooled toward the end of our older son’s schooling and it made me realize how important the role of a parent is in their schooling. It was often easy to sit back and leave things with the teachers.

    In some ways, the government pushes parents out of the way these days. Parents have to get sure footing and choose not to be pushed out of the way. That they are the ones to guide their children. Not outside folks who don’t know them.

    **Climbs off her soapbox with hands folded to avoid typing a rampage of words that Deena would have to kick her out for**

    1. deenaremiel says:

      HAHAHA! I wouldn’t kick ya out, Judy! What you’re saying makes sense, and yes, it’s dreadful hearing about all those officers being killed as well. Families are being torn apart by violence that can be prevented.

    2. But parents get pushed aside or told since they are not educators, they do not know as much and they should leave things to the teachers. I was told just that when I was fighting to get my daughter help she had been granted in a different state and school district. I was labeled and ADVOCATE (not a nice thing in the case of a parent of a learning disabled child) and told I did not understand everything that went into “curing” the learning disabilities she had. I was two semesters short of finishing my education degree….very frustrating!!!

      1. deenaremiel says:

        Oh Lisa, you are not alone in the frustrating merry-go-round called Special Education. Teachers, kids, and parents are caught in the middle of a horrible bureaucracy. Back east, where I taught for 16 years, only ONCE did a referred child not get placed appropriately. Why? Age and how he compared to other students his age, not grade. I come out to the west, I can’t get a kid the services he/she needs to save my life! It’s all numbers and budget and NCLB. Very frustrating.

  6. Thank you! My oldest is a Nanny and we were discussing several of your points the other day. The fact that so many parents would rather be their children’s friends and do not give them boundaries. The fact that our children need, desire and thrive on boundaries and the structure and security they give.

    1. Judy DV says:

      Lisa, I knew a family that took in foster children. The daughter told me that the kids would say things like “Your parents don’t love us like they love you.” She asked them why and believe it or not it was because they were punished the same if they did something wrong. Kids do crave boundaries.

    2. deenaremiel says:

      You are so right! I always say, “There is freedom in structure.” Giving them structure, boundaries, frees their minds to be and do! 🙂

  7. Jim coursey says:

    If a kid (under 21) takes a gun to school, there is an adult somewhere who is responsible. That adult should be sought out and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Owning a gun is fraught with incredible responsibilities. If you don’t live up to those responsibilities, you need to be held accountable.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      *Standing ovation* Thanks Jim! VERY WELL SAID! 😀

  8. Shelly Anisman says:

    Your article hits the nail on the head. As a senior citizen, I am sorry the need to write about this horrific situation exists in our society. Although it gets more difficulty every year, I will remain hopeful that we the people will be able to right the wrong.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      I have to remain hopeful, too. There’s nothing else acceptable.

  9. Pamela D. says:

    Good stuff, Deena. I would only add that American gun culture is perhaps the biggest culprit. We live in a nation where people are trigger happy, and are encouraged to be fearful and paranoid, to reach for a firearm as the first answer to any conflict. Shoot first, ask questions never. Stand your ground! I felt threatened! It’s outrageous, and it’s out of control.

    1. deenaremiel says:

      I agree. We are becoming more and more violent and forgetting about effective communication.

  10. Jim coursey says:

    Actually, it’s people who are out of control. In schools, it’s almost entirely about bullying and counter-bullying, combined with almost universal inability to find real solutions.

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