A lot of thought has been put into the subject; how do we stay safe ? The answer is that we can’t. We can be more prepared, we can be more understanding, but we can’t be safe. Not unless we are willing to change the game.
United Parents of Culver City have raised a lot of good questions, and School Superintendent David LaRose has offered some good perspective on our schools system’s resources. But we live in a culture where murder is a game, and rape is a sport, and unless we choose to educate our children to be different, they will continue on the road that says violence is fun, and it’s amusing to make other people suffer. Every form of corporate entertainment we consume offers that message; violence is fun.
No matter how many locks we put on doors, or how many video cameras we install, we will not create safety; what we will create is a culture of fear. Every so-called “security procedure” is really just another reminder than we are not safe.
It’s the biggest heartbreak of all parenthood; you cannot keep your children safe. Life is filled with risk, and every time you open your eyes and put your feet on the floor, you are engaging in risk taking behavior. Every time your children leave your sight, you are taking a chance, hoping and expecting that they return unharmed. But we can’t confine them with gates and locks. That’s not a childhood, that’s a prison sentence.
You can never be sure that your child will not be the victim of a violent crime. If they are female, the odds are very high that they will be. There is no parenting or community formula that assures a life without that risk. What you can do is make sure that you are not raising the perpetrator.
Teaching our children that cooperation is more important than competition is vital. Stepping away from shooter games (and many video games are just that) and not indulging in violent entertainment might be a challenge (another Tarantino film, anyone?) but it’s one of the healthiest things you can do. If you’ve been to Indiecade, the independent video fest we have every year, you’ve probably tried out a lot of games that are not about shooting. Creativity is always the key. Find a way to teach your children that violence is not funny, and inflicting cruelty on other people is not fun. There are hundreds of things that truly are fun.
We are gifted with public theater, art galleries all over town, music festivals and much more. Your kids need to know that the party is there for them.
They need adults in their lives who are not their parents to be role models for intangible things like self-esteem and problem solving.If those are aunts and uncles and grandparents, great, but they can also be neighbors and teachers and friends. They need to know that they can create a culture of peace, and there are adults who can show them how.
As Dave LaRose pointed out in his statement, we have the huge advantage of having the Youth Health Center. Having mental and physical health resources available to our kids on campus has resolved more problems than we will ever know, because those problems did not become crises resulting in violence.
If you have a child who you know has mental health issues, get help. Get support, get therapy, and know that it’s not just you facing this problem.
While the Youth Health Center is there for our high school kids, and that’s a very important demographic, it’s not there for you. If you are having issues because of violence, you need to get support. If your fears are affecting your children (and no matter how tightly you think you have that particular door locked, they know) you need support. Call a friend, call a therapist, call a minister, call someone and and let yourself out of the closet. Living in fear is a tragedy of it’s own.
Children are happy when parents are happy. As the Dalai Lama has noted, the most important thing you can do for world peace is to have your own inner peace.
We can only change the game by changing the way that we play it.