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Straight Talk for Teens Safe schools: Panel weighs in with solutions

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 7:22 am

For today’s column, I asked the panel what would make our schools safer. Their ideas are excellent and root-cause oriented: Stop drugging our kids. Stop glorifying their killers. Free childhood of television and video games and enrich it with art, nature, nobility and brotherhood. Replace our national obsession with violence with an obsession for education and mental health. And until the train wreck stops: Arm select teachers. It is a wise culture that listens to their youths. — Lauren

Brie, 21, San Francisco: Most perpetrators of school shootings were on psychotropic drugs, many known for increasing thoughts of suicide and death. Yet these drugs are rampantly overprescribed to millions of children with almost zero oversight or consideration of alternatives. Then, there are video games. Even children playing “harmless” games lose social skills. I was nanny to kids who were so socially awkward! They couldn’t pry themselves from virtual reality long enough to say three words. As kids move into more violent games, their only “friends” are online instead of at school. The desensitization and real-world disconnection are serious problems. Until we stop drugging our kids and parking them in front of nonstop virtual violence, we need to train and arm select teachers who could respond immediately in a tragic situation.

Colin, 19, Los Angeles: First off, the idea of “gun-free zones” is incredibly stupid. They actually help criminals by disarming law-abiding citizens. Secondly, responsible psychologists (as opposed to the ones on the news), agree that mass shootings are committed by disturbed individuals who know their killing spree will make them feared, famous, the dark anti-hero, a global household name. And who makes them famous? The news. Specifically television news (the real cancer killing America). Such deeds should get minimal coverage, the killer no recognition. Yet the breathtakingly irresponsible coverage by mainstream media shows just how little they care about children’s lives if it conflicts with ratings.

Lara, 21, Concord: The problem is deeper than gun control. School violence is directly correlated to materialism, individualism, lack of community and human disconnection. We need to change consciousness away from our obsession with violence and toward an obsession with education and mental health. Video games and violent movies desensitize our children from feeling empathy. Everywhere in our schools, I would add Waldorf educational methods — and art. Children would be tested less and do more hands-on work. Families would be encouraged to eliminate TV and “screen time” in favor of getting children outdoors. Children would feel part of an interconnected human family on one planet, not puppets of a “corporatocracy”, isolated and divided against each other by material gratification.

Ryann, 16, Tustin: After childhood at a small private school, I now attend public high school. The most apparent difference is the study and practice of faith. Faith gives young people a sense of direction, guidance and belonging. If we implemented some sort of faith or “higher” consciousness into our schools, students would feel part of something larger and nobler — thus decreasing the chances of helplessness and isolation.

Straight Talk TnT is a 501c3 nonprofit. Ask a question or join our work with a donation at www.StraightTalkTnT.org or P.O. Box 1974, Sebastopol, CA 95473.

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