It’s tragic that school shootings have become more common in the daily life of the American population. It shouldn’t be a shocker of how this affects the children attending schools. Now children seem to be worrying more about their safety than passing their math quizzes. Are they not able to focus, seeing pictures of the recent school shooting victims that remind them of themselves? Is there now a paranoia in our children, making them warry and super-observant of their peers they might think is dangerous?
The massacre of school children in Newton, Connecticut back in 2012 stirred up a much needed national conversation about guns, mental illness, safety and civil rights. In the light of the media attention and a heightened concern for mass shootings, it seemed like the policy makers had a window of opportunity to act on the reforms to reduce gun violence nationally. Yet, the proper course of action was far from being taken care of. A competition of ideas about the nature and causes of the problem and what to do about it made it difficult to come to an agreement on what path to take.
Most of us know that exposure to violent events causes trauma and lasting effects that change our lives. These changes go as deep as our nervous system, no matter if your are an adult or child. Early exposure to extreme violence, and toxic stress caused by the fear of violence, are shown to negatively impact psychosocial engagement and increase the likelihood of person developing mental health conditions long term. About 50 percent of Americans experience a mental illness at any point in their lifetime and are more likely victims of violence than being the perpetrators. While much more can be done about the problems of perpetrators with mental illness, that alone wont address all the problems associated with gun violence.