Complex problems do not have simple solutions. Thus, stop suggesting that changing the gun laws is going to end mass shootings. No gun law can do that — even though I agree wholeheartedly that some changes are urgently needed.
Complex problems do not have simple solutions.
Thus, stop suggesting that changing the gun laws is going to end mass shootings. No gun law can do that — even though I agree wholeheartedly that some changes are urgently needed.
Stop suggesting better security for schools. Schools have already made reasonable improvements to security. Unless you want schools to be constructed like prisons, further fortification won’t solve anything.
Stop suggesting that the problem is that we have taken God out of the schools. We haven’t — kids can pray, bring their Bibles to school, and talk about their religion to their friends all they want. We just don’t allow the state — public school employees — to push their personal religion on your child, and this is a good thing.
Stop suggesting that violent video games, movies and TV shows cause violence. There doesn’t appear to be any correlation.
I’m sorry I cannot offer any quick, neat panacea for ending all the world’s problems. If there were an easy answer we’d have found it by now.
Big problems demand multi-faceted, thoughtful responses that won’t fit on a Facebook meme.
One of the issues we are not hearing much about, but should be, is mental health treatment.
A couple of police scanners squawk nonstop a few feet from my desk. I keep at least half an ear on them as I go about my day, listening for things like fires and crimes.
One of the things I frequently hear are things like, “10-year-old, out of control, no weapons at this time” or “12-year-old, refuses to go to school. Out of control.”
That’s the phrase the dispatchers use quite often — “out of control” — and a lot of people suggest what these kids need is some enhanced discipline.
That might be true in some cases, but what most of these kids probably need is some mental health treatment.
Ditto for many of the calls on adults who are breaking various laws.
The Connecticut school shooter has been widely described as being “disturbed” — something nobody is likely to disagree with at this point. We don’t know what mental health treatment, if any, he may have received, and his parents were wealthy enough to afford the best of care.
But that isn’t true of most of the “disturbed” people out there. We just don’t treat them. We’ve closed most of the treatment centers, making it hard to find a mental health bed for anybody but the most acutely “disturbed” individuals.
I have heard parents of severely mentally ill children complain that they cannot get any meaningful treatment for them unless their children are charged with a crime and thus shuttled into the criminal justice system.
I recall a friend, suffering from severe depression after a bad break-up and several sudden deaths of young friends, trying to get treatment several years ago. He didn’t have a lot of money, and his insurance wasn’t very good. Trying to navigate the system would have been frustrating enough for someone with perfect mental health. For him it was overwhelming.
I helped him as much as I could, but it was taking forever to find help. Finally, he made a half-hearted suicide attempt and landed in the hospital. I slept peacefully that night for the first time in weeks, feeling sure that my friend would finally get the help he needed. Alas, once they’d gotten the medication cleaned out of his system, he was released without ever seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. I’ve since learned that there are today just a fraction of the mental health beds available today that we had 20 years ago. So people go untreated.
We’ve chosen to cut state budgets by closing treatment centers. Insurance often will not cover in-patient treatment. And it’s cheaper to prescribe Prozac than to pay for weekly counseling. How many of your friends and colleagues take some sort of medication for depression or anxiety? It’s truly an epidemic, and throwing pills at people doesn’t solve everything.
Just improving our mental health system won’t magically fix society’s problems or eliminate violence. But it’s one component, along with a million other small things, that we should do.
Making sure workers have living wages, improving our schools, teaching children right from wrong, finding ways to support healthy families, providing better health care and mental health care, and yes, making meaningful and reasonable changes to our gun laws are all things that we should do just because they’re the right things to do. The list of things we should improve to make our culture better stretches a lot longer than that, but you get the idea.
I believe that if we make our whole society healthier we will also see a lot fewer mass shootings.
Sorry I don’t have an easier fix.
Pekin (Ill.) Daily Times Editor Michelle Teheux may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.