I can’t look at the pictures of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newton, Connecticut without my eyes brimming with tears. Now from every corner someone blows in with solutions, theories on why it happened, what could have been done to prevent it, who’s at fault: ‘We need better gun regulation’; ‘God and the Bible should return to the classroom’; ‘teachers should carry guns’;’improve the mental health system.’ Reading the few articles that I can bear, I have determined that, among them, only better gun regulation may have prevented this slaughter. As we saw occur on the same day in China, where a madman attacked students and teachers with a knife, everyone lived.
God and the Bible in the Classroom
Perhaps we do need God and the Bible, but I don’t see that as a winnable dispute. What we do need and a battle that could be won is to promote better cooperation between teachers and parents. When I was teaching and called the parents to talk about their children, I was told time and again that it was my fault. The teaching colleges, school administrators, and fellow faculty members encourage this view. If parents do not demand respect at home, the teacher is faced with an ongoing contest for the children’s attention and deference. I saw the difference between the two. It was huge and directly impacted the children’s behavior in the classroom.
Teachers Should Carry Guns
This proposition is absolutely ludicrous. Guns are not permitted on school campuses anyway and keeping them out of the hands of students would mean that teachers would have difficulty getting access in an emergency, besides anyone who has ever been a teacher can tell you that students would crack that security in no time at all.
Improve the Mental Health System
I worked at the Veterans Administration psychiatric hospital when I witnessed the ‘lunatics’ being released from the ‘asylum.’ Many of these former patients became the mentally ill homeless who accosted people on the streets.
From what I read about the mother, she wasn’t open to outside interference in her home life and she alone would have been responsible for having him committed. It appears that the boy was never in a school long enough to be referred for treatment. If he had been, I’m sure the mother would have prevented it.
Another problem with that argument is: how do we remove the stigma of psychiatric treatment? I sought and received treatment for depression. If I told anyone about it, they looked at me with fear, as though I would become one of those maniacs who would gun people down in a fit of anger. It became a part of my permanent personnel record, because not revealing it could have resulted in my being fired. I believe it played a role in my being able to receive a promotion at the institution where I worked. The general population needs to recognize the wisdom of seeking treatment.
I think we should start with regulating automatic rifles and handguns, then begin the longer and much more difficult task of demanding respect from our children. Educating people about mental illness should also be a priority.