Columbine High School, Santana High School, Granite Hills High School, Sandy Hook Elementary and Taft High School among many, many other schools where school violence have made the news. Gun control and mental health are highly debated topic as of recent; being a parent I can’t help but be vested in the safety of our school systems. As I listen to this debate I have noticed one common thread… the perpetrators all feel like some sort of outcast, rejected. Just last week in Taft, CA a young man opened fire on classmates while at school because he was being bullied. Bullying is NOT a new problem, it has plagued our society since the beginning of time, and yet somehow it is pushing innocent children off the edge of sanity. What is the problem? Yes out mental health system need help, and yes, somehow we must better screen the purchasers of guns. I am not a NRA member, nor do I own guns, but I do support the Constitution of the United States of America and the 2nd Amendment.
The underlying thread to these young men and women is that they don’t feel like they have a place in our society. What has happened then? Our nation has become one of reaction instead of being proactive. We support social care programs leading to a sense of entitlements, making our government to support a great chunk of the population, to the detriment of the school systems. Our schools have been stripped to the bones of faculty members, extracurricular activities and the like. Studies like those done by the University of Nevada- Reno points that extracurricular activities help to prevent problem behaviors such as truancy, drop-out rates, violence and substance abuse. These activities allow students a place to “belong”, for outcasts to find their place doing activities they enjoy, such as, music, drama, arts, chess, languages, debate, sports, trade skills… and the list goes on. These activities allow for additional adult positive influence the students outlook on how he/she perceives things, and their youth values. Studies also show that students who do participate in extracurricular activities also are more likely to attend college. If we were to invest a little more heavily into the school system, taking a little more proactive action, we would reduce drastically the reactive social dole system that is necessary as we speak.
Due to recent budget cuts, the teacher/student ratio has increased to 35% (20.9/1) above the national average (15.5/1) according to the California School Boards Association. In reality we are faced with upwards of 35/1 teacher ratios. In addition, teachers are asked to use their preparation periods to monitor the playground. Full time school nurses and school counselors are also a thing of the past. School counselors as we know them today stand at a ratio of 1000/1. Is it any wonder that young men and women are falling through the cracks and are not being recognized for their mental illnesses? Schools are so desperately overwhelmed trying to keep up with academic standards with such a little budget that they are ill equipped to handle and deal with mental issues and drug abuse in the school system. For the parents, this IS an issue, they need resources to get their precious children the help they need, and schools just ignore the bullies hoping they will go away.
It is time for our Government to take some responsibility for the recent violent and horrific actions that has occurred in many schools. STOP the continuous budget cuts and reinstate teachers and faculty members that can identify and assist the healing of such hurting individuals. In return, we will be producing a healthier, more productive, less dependent, taxpaying group of citizens.