Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Unfortunate Normal...

Today, I googled "preventing massacres in schools." Today, I googled "Kevlar."

Are these normal things to be googling?

Normally, I do not blog about tragic events. Normally, I keep things light and fluffy here. This is my happy spot on the Internet, and so I try to keep it that way. That is my normal. Happy. Mindless. Fluff. Not today. Today, I am going to step outside my comfort zone, and I am going to tell you what I think and what I feel.

I recognize and understand that my children face an unfortunate normal. My children and yours no longer have the happy, mindless, fluffy normalcy that you and I had growing up. Their world is a scary one. I can remember being in school and being terrified that someone might try to sell a bag of weed to me. What I wouldn't give for weed to be the biggest problem that all of our children face each day.

I recognize and understand that my children and yours have to practice lock down drills at schools. I remember being in school and sitting in the hallway with a mathematics book covering my head while laughing during a tornado drill. What I wouldn't give for drills to be fun and unnecessary.

I recognize and understand that my children and yours have to hear about children dying at school. Do you remember when it was legal to have a gun on school property? Here in the South, it wasn't (and still isn't even though it's now illegal) unusual for a teenage boy to have a hunting rifle in his truck. What I wouldn't give for those rifles to stay in the trucks and never cross the plane of the door.

I recognize and understand that my children and yours have to face a new normal, but I Do Not Accept that there is nothing that can be done to change the new normal.

I think there is more that can be done to protect our children. I think that all doors should be locked. I think that the doors to schools should be "buzz in" type doors. I think that armed law enforcement resource officers should be in as many schools as possible. Yes, I understand that if someone really, really wants to get into a school, he/she will find a way to blow the door open, BUT we don't have to leave the door open inviting the ill inside. A lot of the front doors are unlocked all day every day here. I can walk inside my two youngest children's school at any time. No cameras. No locks. Walk right in.

I think there should be an alert system to notify parents of events on or near school property. If universities can text the entire student body with updates, I think that local school systems could do the same. Let the parents know what happened and what to do. Where to go. Who to see. How to help. The information should flow from school officials to the parents without media interference.

I think there is more that can be done to protect the mentally ill from harming themselves and others. Parents and family members of individuals suffering from a mental illness do not have adequate avenues of support and treatment. Deinstitutionalization continues to be preferred, and let's be real for a moment - a 72 hour hold is not near enough time to address the gravity of mental illness. These individuals need serious time, medication, and therapy to conquer their demons...and the people who love mentally ill individuals should be able to force the time, medication, and therapy without lengthy court proceedings. Yes, it almost always has to be forced. The sick often do not realize they are in need of help, and sometimes they flat out do not want help. I know from personal experience that it is painful to dial 911 to save the life of someone you love. It is even more painful to hear your loved one spewing hate at you for making the decision to call for help. There should be better options. Involuntary commitment should be an easier process.

I know that many will immediately point to gun control, and I understand the logic. I also understand that heroin and meth are illegal, but I can still buy both if I choose. Banning weapons cannot be the only answer. In fact, I don't think it's the answer at all. The problem isn't with the laws; the problem is with the individuals who choose to break the laws.

I think the media needs to stop sensationalizing stories like Newtown. Report the story. End the story. The constant coverage, the theme songs created for the story, the graphics plastered on the screen, teasing viewers with words like "as new details emerge"...It has to stop. I will remember Adam Lanza's name and picture probably for the rest of my life. Will I remember him for something wonderful like curing cancer or saving a million babies? No, I will remember him because for the last several days, his picture and story has been on every major TV station, Internet site, twitter, facebook, etc. He is infamous. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Adam Lanza's name is not the one that should be easy to recall. The names of the twenty children and six adults should be the ones to recall.

I am willing to lobby or write or beg to change my children's normal. I am going to lobby and write and beg. Will you join me? We have the ability to make changes to our laws and environment that can provide our children and our neighbors with more safety. We have the ability to change the future. Let's do it. Starting now. Email me at romine.amanda@gmail.com...