People like you everywhere were paralyzed with shock, horror, fear and sadness by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings a few months ago. I experience a similar reaction on a somewhat regular basis as appalling acts of violence occur on both a large and small scale that threaten our loved ones, especially our children. That bleak reality warrants change on at least a couple different levels such as new gun legislation and a cultural shift in society regarding violence. Society must better engage children through constant dialogue to promote violence awareness and prevention. We must also work to end the cycle of poverty, which is tangled in acts of violence.
The United States should examine other countries with lower homicide rates as potential gun legislation models. For example, the laws in the United Kingdom tightly control firearms. The UK’s rate of gun homicides was .07 per 100,000 people in 2010. That is over 40 times lower than the United States’ 3.0 homicides per 100,000 people (Wikipedia.com, March 25, 2013). In fact, a friend from England recently told me how there are strict rules around anyone who has a gun for a special reason and that person may be subject to a gun audit at any time to ensure it is safely stored. Mental health must also be factored into our gun and healthcare legislation.
Necessary new legislation and it’s potential impact will not happen overnight nor will it exclusively solve our grave problem with violence. Protecting kids should also start with actively engaging them rather than depending on media and technology to distract them. Technology can mean easy access to entertainment where guns are glamorized. No wonder kids are so attracted to playing with guns. Parents and caretakers must closely monitor kids’ access and use of entertainment such as video, television and movies. Adults must talk to kids about risks related to everything ranging from mental health to violence. Kids must also understand their actions will result in consequences as a deterrent to gangs and drugs.
Kids who are less fortunate generally lack role models to drive these conversations and need more opportunities. Grass roots initiatives from upstanding members of communities facing socio-economic challenges and external volunteers must inspire these at-risk-kids to turn away from the temptation of drugs and gangs while working for an honest living. This should help foster a positive and empowered community that can partner with police to help stop violence.
I fell asleep last night drafting this idea for change. I felt at peace as I imagined a world for my two sons who are under the age of three. I hope our dream for a safer tomorrow will someday be a reality for all.
If you or a loved one have a new baby, consider hosting a “sip and see” party.
My Mom never ceases to amaze me and our family Saint Patrick’s Day celebration last weekend was another one of those occasions. She found impromptu live music on the street, rescued our toddler and more. Below are a few details you may find these handy someday…
Tomorrow is the first day of spring! Are you ready? Depending on where you live, you may still need your winter coat for now like us in Chicago… That will soon change and spring flowers, such as tulips, will pop up everywhere if they are not already as our days continue to get longer. Below are a few things you can do to get in the spirit…
Saint Patrick’s Day is clearly one of our favorite holidays so it was a must that our newest addition, Patrick, celebrate!
Below are a few laughs and lessons learned.
An op-ed from Sunday’s New York Times (“The Darkness of an Irish Morning”) speaks to my family’s Irish and Irish-American identity as all of my grandparents were from Ireland. The author, John Patrick Shanley, explains how the Irish (as in European – not American) have the gift of gab since they had to get along on an island. They live where it rains quite a bit and there is a lot of drink. Many Irish faced financial hardship. Shanley says, “They learn to say awful things. With charm.” The author says he may have inherited this gift of gab from his father. I never knew my maternal grandfather, but know he had that gift, which he passed onto my Mom who can genuinely talk to everyone and make them feel special.