Addressing gun violence is a multi-faceted issue that involves prioritizing the well-being of our children, supporting lawmakers who advocate for expanded access to mental health care, and voting for candidates committed to keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
I try to teach my two children that the world is a good place, that they are safe.
Eventually, they will know that this isn’t always true. They will have to deal with heartbreak, disappointment, and tragedy. But for now, while they’re 5 and 7, and still believe in fairies, gnomes, and Santa Claus, I will try to let them linger in that innocent misty world of childhood for as long as I can.
The truth of the matter is that sometimes they are not safe, and the world is not always a good place. The children of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, had to learn that in the most horrific way, hiding under desks as their short lives passed in front of them while they were hammered with bullets. And they were not the first. Who can forget Sandy Hook? Or Columbine?
This keeps happening over and over again. We are burying our children. Gun violence is now the top cause of mortality among minors.
And what about the shooters? Some have been failed by society too. The signs were ignored, they did not get the help they needed before the unthinkable happened. Some fell through the cracks only to reemerge as killers.
So how do we go about making the world a better place? Here are some thoughts from my perspective as a parent.
- Limit screen time. Children need to socialize and be active. They need to be in the real world. They need to learn to care about people and develop empathy. You don’t learn that by being on screens all day.
- When your children do have screen time, monitor what they’re watching. This should go without saying, but why are children playing violent video games? How do they benefit from this?
- Vote for lawmakers that support comprehensive background checks on firearm purchase and limiting access to assault weapons. Why do we want people with a criminal history or who are mentally unstable carrying guns around? And why does anyone need military-style firearms—unless, of course, you’re planning a mass shooting? This seems like a no-brainer, yet Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to pass a constitutional carry law, which would make purchasing a gun as easy as buying a loaf of bread. Really.
- Support lawmakers who believe in expanding access to health care, particularly comprehensive mental health care that includes counseling, therapy, and resources for caregivers. Many shooters have reportedly had mental health disorders and did not get the care they needed.
- Report strange behavior. Experts say that many shooters showed warning signs, which can include abusing animals, domestic violence, and sharing threatening messages or images of firearms via social media. Teach your older kids to watch out for this behavior among their peers and report it to adults, school authorities and the police.
- Pay extra attention to your children. Put the phone down, the computer away, and prioritize your kids. By being a loving parent, you will teach them to love others, and that’s how changing the world starts.