Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our survival as a human community

"...our survival as a human community may depend as much upon our nurture of love in infancy and childhood as upon the protection of our society from external threats." Dr. Selma Fraiberg Child Psychoanalyst, author & social worker These are haunting words from Dr. Selma Fraiberg that have also been a guidepost for me on my journey as a mother, teacher, parenting educator and child advocate. The shooting of 20 people at an elementary school, mostly young children...just babies really, is a tragedy beyond imagination. Our country has experienced 15 mass shootings in this year alone, which has brought us to a new level of violence that unfortunately is unparalleled in the world- unless compared to terrorism in other countries. Our response to these horrors is sadly becoming predictable; "Why or how did this happen?", "Where there signs that were missed?", "How can we prevent this from happening again?", "This was an act of pure evil." We react by trying to make our schools safer- so now we will have law enforcement patrolling the halls of elementary schools like we already do in middle and high schools, often with guard gates and ten foot fences in place. But the root reasons fail to be addressed, the deeper questions fail to be asked, real solutions fail to be implemented. For the most part, we know what creates a violent person but now it's becoming increasingly complicated. The solutions are multi-faceted and must not only include stronger gun control but better better care of children and better mental health care. Prescription psychotropic drugs could very well be at the root of many of these mass shootings, suicides and other forms of violence like familicide. Watch this trailor about a documentary on the dangers of psychotropic drugs and the drug industry called "Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging." While I believe nurturing young children is the best model for prevention of many societal problems, it's not the only answer. Drugging our children may be causing lasting negative effects on their developing brains and they may have put the young shooter over the edge. Since the nineties it has been known that drugs like Ritalin can cause brain shrinkage and central nervous system damage over time. If abused it can cause psychotic behavior and violence, as can antidepressants. As we think about this horrible tragedy, my hope and prayer is that their lives will help us change as a society, that we pay attention to the emotional needs of children, that we teach them peaceful ways to solve problems and that we let them know we care because many don't believe that adults care about them. We have to wake up and become informed about what is going on in our families and our communities. We have to be advocates for ourselves and our children- if we don't educate ourselves, no one will do it for us.