Posted: 10/07/06 21:11, Edited: 10/07/06 09:17
by Dave Mindeman
President Bush offered his sympathy for the families of last week's shooting victims in his radio address. All of us feel for those families, but I didn't hear much discussion on solutions.
Bush's answer? Yet another conference to talk about it. Then he moved on to yet another opportunity to promote a continuation of No Child Left Behind.
Talk is not going to cut it.
We are going to have to put everything on the table. Schools simply cannot be a target for every desperate and suicidal person to publicly end his life. It cannot be the focal point of any domestic dispute. It cannot be a place for a final resolution to life's myriad disappointments.
But we also must reject any notion that our schools become armed camps as Wisconsin lawmaker Frank Lassee would promote. Arming School administrators and janitors is simply asking for more violence. We simply can't allow gun battles in the halls or stealing weapons for pranks. It is ridiculous.
So what do we do? There probably is no way this can be stopped completely. What people are capable of, knows no bounds. But we do need to set priorities that can help.
First, we need to reduce classroom size. Teachers have to be given the opportunity to give attention to everyone. Too many kids slip through the cracks because nobody pays attention to their emotional well being.
Second, we need to be realistic about mental illness. Health insurance must treat these disorders the same as other health therapies. The cost to society for untreated mental illness is hard to assess... but a number of these violent acts have their roots in undiagnosed dysfunctional behavior that, if detected early enough, could avert needless tragedy. Schools should also have trained mental health professionals on staff -- obviously another expense which our Republican friends will refuse to pay for, but then how much does it cost all of us when tragedy strikes?
Third, schools must continue to work on minimizing bullying in our schools. Too many kids live in fear and depression; which gets to the point that they lash out at the world. They need adult guidance and protection -- they must not be left alone to visualize their problems into something insurmountable.
Fourth, if we can't reduce the number of guns in the marketplace, we can at least eliminate all guns and weapons in the schools. We simply must block all opportunities for firearms and schools to mix. We have to redesign schools to eliminate unsecured access points. Metal detectors have to be utilized and zero tolerance of weapons enforced. We don't want to get to the point where armed security guards patrol the halls, but we do have to reduce the potential for trouble with smart prevention.
And you know what? All of that would cost money and probably increase taxes. It all comes down to choices and what's important doesn't it....
Even if we were willing to spend the money and were perfect in all of those areas, there still will be tragedies to come. All we can hope to do is reduce the potential.
But more weapons and more talk won't help anything.