Prevention starts with mental health and gun control
In the wake of the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many are asking "why" and "what can be done?" To feel so powerless in such awful circumstances is terrible, but not as appalling as the deaths of these innocents and the lifetime of grief that will be the constant companion of the victims’ families, loved ones and friends.
Too frequently following tragedies, it is tempting to find someone to blame, to give some sense of meaning to incomprehensible violence. It is my fervent desire that we look at this as an opportunity to truly think about prevention and what kinds of things we can do better. Yes, we can make our schools as safe as possible, but we will never anticipate or eliminate all of the potential threats that exist, and we must make the schools educationally healthy environments in which children can learn.
When we think of prevention, that also means trying to provide the kinds of care that might actually help some of the troubled souls who are vulnerable to the influences that lead to these kinds of terrible acts. In the present health care environment, mental health care is woefully underfunded and is clearly not meeting the needs of the people who can be helped.
Further, most schools are unprepared, underfunded and understaffed to even recognize and deal with mental health issues when they arise. Schools are not intended to be mental health treatment facilities, but they are often the first line of care, and when they see problems and have some way to respond to the issues and refer them out when needed, this could be a significant benefit for many students who might need these services.
These approaches alone will not eliminate all of the violent events in our lives, but they will help, and each meaningful effort will bear some fruit. The more we can do, then, the more we can expect to benefit.
Further, we must do something about the availability of guns. I am not advocating doing away with private gun ownership, but the United States has unfortunately liberal gun laws, and it is simply too easy to get guns of almost any type. I have heard all of the slogans, like "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" and "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," and while these sayings make good bumper stickers, they are not good bases for policy and law.
We need to look at these issues rationally and without the mindless and reflexive reliance on simplistic and unrealistic positions. It is time to take stock of what is important and what we can do to help.
Dr. Rudy Nydegger
The writer is a clinical psychologist.
Teach kids to become smarter consumers
Gazette/Farley issue [Dec. 15 editorial] is little more than a continued tunnel-vision focus on "more money solves the problems."
Both want more money for education; Farley sees it from local taxes, the Gazette from state funds. Does either see any value in reviewing the educational program to see what else might be needed for the welfare of the students? What is the objective and responsibility of the public schools? Is it sensible and reasonable to prepare all students to become astronauts, or even to go to college? Is our objective to have higher math and science scores than China and Germany?
When I was a public school teacher, our objective was to prepare students to be productive citizens — for each to become all they are capable of being. Ninety-nine percent of our students do not become astronauts, and about half go on to complete college. Nearly 100 percent become consumers, the side of the economy that was a major factor in the credit crisis and the side of the economy that will help bring us out of this crisis.
Why is it that consumer education is almost completely ignored in the curriculum, instead of being mandated for all students? Knowledge of consumer law alone would improve the welfare of those struggling to make minimum payments on their credit cards.
Let's stop shooting for the stars and face reality.
‘Women’s health care’ an oxymoron with pill
Live and learn. But do we ever learn, especially regarding the health issues; in particular those pertaining to women?
There are those who call this ongoing issue “women’s health care,” which in many cases includes the use of contraceptives — the Pill.
The use of the Pill indicates an unnatural process that will take place in the reproductive system, thereby interrupting the natural order and doing what is contrary to its normal functioning. Such usage, over time, has an effect on this system. Is this not counterproductive?
At times, when a woman decides to stop the pill, the process of adjustment can be a cause of disturbance. Sadly enough, with side effects of the pill, unfortunate situations may occur, such as a child being born with abnormalities. When there is an increase in childhood illnesses and autism, isn’t this a possible clue/connection with such things, contraceptives?
Youth continues to have an early start with sex practices, which obviously inhibits their growth physically and intellectually. Abstinence can be a healthy alternative, not only for the sexual appetite, but also for food and drink appetites. The outcome would be positive and a new way to form good health habits on life’s journey.
Several steps can be taken to control guns
Some practical ideas [for] gun control: A six-month waiting period and a $1,000 application fee. An extensive, detailed background check. Rejection for any criminal record, or if a family member has or is being treated for a mental illness.
A ban on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, hollow-point ammo, and all online sales. Restrictions on the amount of ammunition per purchase and the time between purchases.
Full documentation required for ammunition purchase. A national database of all registered gun owners, all gun sales and all ammunition sales shared with law enforcement.
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