As we all know, the recent shooting in Florida has had tremendous impact in our media. One courageous student who has stepped forward to confront many of the issues related to their school, their state and their community is Emma Gonzalez. Her speech has gone viral.
Gonzalez has raised legitimate issues such as:
- The gun laws
- Missed warnings about the shooter
- Safety in schools
- PTSD of the students involved
- Grief of the families
- The sense of helplessness
- The possible mental illness in students
- The proactive results in other countries that have taken steps to prevent school shootings.
Her passion is the same as many of us: safe school environments for students.
We want a place where students can have confidence, where they do not have to look over their shoulder for a potential violent act against them or their friends.
It is time that adults who are responsible for the safety of our schools rise up and insist on significant changes. It is not a one-dimensional issue but rather a systematic one. If we do nothing, more shootings will occur and more lives will be threatened.
I honestly never dreamed of a day we would have problems like this in our schools. It is frightening for students and their families to think of such horror in their own community.
- We all need to be advocates who not only raise awareness, but insist on heightened vigilance to prevent such tragedies.
- We must be active in our processes with students who have serious mental health needs and insist on changes that will protect our students.
- There should be a concentrated effort in research aligned with changes in systems
- We need an all-out effort to keep our schools and students safe.
- If there are indicators a student has the potential to be violent, we ought to take that threat seriously whether in our schools, law enforcement and community organizations, or systems of care.
Even if we do not have all the answers, we should listen to the passion and call to action by students like Emma.
Her desire to protect her fellow students is admirable, and perhaps we need the voice of a victim to be the catalyst for change in our communities, our states and our country.
In fact, all of our students want and need a voice.
It is why we advocate strong and supportive relationships with students which start with active listening, consistent communication, building trust and compassionate support. We have found this to be key to building a safe school environment in our schools at Lakeside.
Courageous and passionate students like Emma need to be heard especially with her sense of urgency to protect herself and all students.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO