#childsafety | ‘Our kids are calling out for help’

For me, there was a time when getting ready to leave for work it was second nature to kiss my children, wish them well at school and wave as I walked out the door, saying, “See you at dinner.” This was my calm and secure routine. Knowing that after the hustle of a workday, I’d return to see my children.

Today my commuting days are long gone; however, now as a grandparent, I wait for my grandchildren to kiss me goodbye and wave as they walk out the door saying, “See you later.” Only today that sense of calmness of the morning routine is not there, because all I can do is pray they are not the next news event. Fear has now replaced my feeling of security.

Burned in my memory are the horrific events at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Stoneman Douglas High School, and most recently Oxford High School, causing lost lives and traumatized survivors. Our children are murdering each other. Not to mention the numerous incidents of lockdowns throughout the country, including our own recently occurring at Danbury High School. These events, beyond disrupting education, create fear, havoc and the further uncertainty of school safety. As each successful day passes with no incident, I am relieved; yet, apprehensive because I know I am only going to relive this feeling again the next day. Is this something I must live with now?

Our kids are calling out for help. We need to listen to them and look for the signs before more murders and violence are committed. The pandemic is not the sole blame for the unhealthy school climate today. It’s time to look at ourselves as a society. The news is filled with violence, in any store or street someone can be seen demonstrating a lack of respect toward others, politicians show an unwillingness to cooperate, racial inequality divides us, communities lack funding for mental health and education. We need to demand the resources and time to address the social emotional issues if we hope to lessen them. We need more effective consequences for those who commit malice actions. It is time for our community to become more proactive and less reactive.

We can’t wait to act on the safety issue only when incidents happen, it must be at the center of our school district’s plan. The community needs to understand how the schools are making time to address the needs of our children before they act out. Understanding, valuing, and funding these plans is one way to reinstate a sense of parent comfort and safety.

Do not misunderstand, it is not the school’s efforts alone that can make the difference. We, the public must also set an example. Remember to be respectful to others, look to cooperate and collaborate rather than battle in times of conflict. Seek advice before reaching your frustration point. Listen to the conversations taking place, ask questions, and offer alternative suggestions. Write to your state representatives to demand tighter gun control laws. Most of all, talk. Talk to the students to help them peacefully cope with how they feel. Talk to the schools and let them know your child needs support. Having a voice and demanding a change makes a difference. All of this will take time, commitment and organization, but wouldn’t the effort be worth the peace of mind? Parents, enough is enough, aren’t you ready for a change?

Richard Jannelli recently ended a 16-year term on the Danbury Board of Education.

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