Today tragedy occurred.
Today hundreds of children’s lives changed forever in just one moment. A community was altered. A friend, a student, a classmate, a sibling, a child, a grandchild was lost. In one moment a whole community was changed.
These children will never go to school the same, never look at their classmates the same. Every day they will look at their classmates and now will wonder if they will see the student who sits next to them will return tomorrow.
“That would never happen here.” or “That’s sad but not in my back yard. We aren’t like that here.” It’s so easy to feel like it would never hit close to home until it does.
It happens here. It happens everywhere. We have to talk about it now. Enough is enough.
Daily, we send our children to school thinking they are safe. Safe from the evil outside world that we all live in every day. Truth is though they are just as in it there as we are out here. Kids in schools today think bullying is the way to make friends and hurting others is the only way to make it through the times of not understanding themselves.
What do we do as the “role-model” adults? We decrease the budgets for schools so that the class size is almost forty students per teacher and we expect the teachers to keep up with their students academically and socially. We decrease the budgets to where the schools, if they are lucky, have two counselors that are at their schools every day. These TWO counselors that are expected to take care of not only the 550 plus students (sometimes double that) that reside in their school but also all the other work that is loaded onto them due to the lack of being able to have enough staff members to function well.
No grade, school or university is exempt from this heartache.
We leave the kids without teaching them about mental health and instead we teach them about algebra (not saying that’s not important because it is.) We push mandated teaching goals so much on our teachers and such harsh standards that they have little to no time to even try and connect with the students that they interact daily. They’re doing the best they can with what they are given. I know we all have at least one teacher that was there for us if you’re lucky you have few. But what about the ones who don’t connect? They’re shy or they’re sad and they don’t click.
What does all this play out to be in the end? It plays out to our students feeling alone, unimportant and helpless. It shows our children that we believe that budgets and getting perfect grades is more important than the mental state of yourself or your classmate.
Things need to change. We as adults need to begin to put our student’s best interest first. We need to begin to educate our children and teachers on the signs that their classmate may be in danger. We need to allow teachers the ability and the accessibility to connect with their students so that the student knows, that if no one else is there, your teacher always has your back. 28% of students in grades 6-12 admit that they have been bullied.
We need change. We need it now.
So contact your local representative, volunteer, get involved in your community governments and organizations. You can learn how to contact your local representatives here. Change is slow and it is hard but it is worth it. We have to put the focus on mental health and improving it across the board. We have to focus on our children and giving them what they need.
It shouldn’t have to take another community being broken for change to occur. Tell someone you love them today and squeeze your loved ones a little tighter. Reach out to the person eating alone. Love everyone a little harder. Tell the teachers who helped you you’re grateful for them. The only way any of this changes is if we make it.
If you or someone you know is struggling you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or learn how to get involved here.