One of the major takeaways from my three semesters of MSPP classes and practicum is the following: complex problems require complex solutions. Challenges that are years in the making will also be years in the un-making. And so it goes with the horrific gun violence that has permeated the U.S. for decades. Perhaps this latest spate of killings – this time involving so many young children – will finally spark the dialogue and debate necessary to make meaningful change for our children, our society, ourselves.
Improved access to quality mental health services, destigmatizing mental health disorders, more restrictive gun laws, communities that embrace difference and diversity, a nurturing of boys and men to better cope with difficult emotions, and a conscious effort to steer children towards games that do not glorify violence are all pieces of the puzzle – and there are many more. There is no one avenue for healing a country inured to frequent mass shootings, a nation that hardly blinks at the stockpiling of guns in homes, a culture that normalizes violence in video games, T.V. shows, and sensational news headlines.
Even as I wrestle with the deep sadness and shock evoked by Friday’s massacre, I believe that a call for action is not only warranted but essential. School psychologists have a profound understanding of the insidious, lasting effects trauma has on developing brains – and we should be joining the faint but growing call for a cease-fire from the deeply embedded violence that surrounds us all.