Let's make this the #LastTime. Here are my suggestions for ending violence in a working document that you are free to share and add to. Time's up. No more. Click here to download the document.
Individuals, Parents, Families, Students
- Teach yourselves and your children to trust your instincts. If you feel afraid, uncomfortable, or feel “something” about someone at school or in the workplace or in your neighborhood, trust that feeling. Talk to those who can help. Read The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker. Have your older children read this book.
- Support organizations that provide school social emotional learning experiences. This builds a strong school community, reduces isolation, increases belonging, and builds empathy. Programs include The Peaceful Project and Challenge Day.
- Know your neighbors. Have a neighborhood event, invite people over, introduce yourselves. The more you know your neighbors, the deeper your community connections. The deeper the connections, the more helpful you can be if there are losses, challenges, problems. Violence is a connection problem.
- Listen closely to your children. If your child mentions another child at school whom they suspect will choose violence, please contact the school. Follow up with the school. One phone call may not enough. Make your intention providing help to that student rather than punishing or isolating them. Contact the parents if the child is a neighbor or the family is known to you.
- Reach out to the families of those slain. Provide a meal. Attend the funeral. Send a card.
- Recognize loss. If a student experiences a loss, such as the death of a sibling or parent, recognize that through calls, cards, meals, and including them in your family’s activities.
- Support organizations that strive to end gun violence such as Sandy Hook Promise and Every Town.
- Find ways to take action. Choose what is important to you and take action for change.
- Join organizations that are “pro” and avoid “anti” groups. “Anti” groups create an enemy or object to be “against.” That enemy or object will always need to be there for the group to exist. For an “anti-gun” organization to exist, there would always need to a problem with guns. Choose a “pro” group, such as pro-regulation and pro-safety.
Schools, School Boards, Local and State Governmental Entities
- Plan and build smaller schools. There is a tipping point at which knowing one another and having a sense of community in school is hampered by the size of the school. By making schools smaller, we can enhance that sense of belonging and the ease of being a supportive community.
- Make home room an important, unifying start of the day. You can do this right now in any size school by making home room a place of connection and unity. Begin each day with activities that involve face-to-face communication, eye contact, and an emotional component. It could be as simple as having students pair up or stand in a circle and having each person answer a question asked by the teacher or one of the students. Questions could include: “What is your biggest challenge today?”, “How can we support you today?”, “What would you like us to know about you today?” It could include a mindfulness exercise.
- Have more guidance counselors who can actively counsel students. So much of a guidance counselor’s day is spent doing things that are not counseling. Hire enough guidance counselors so that they can know and meet with students regularly.
- Include social emotional learning programs, such as Community in Unity, in classrooms and schools. It is vital that students be able to recognize and manage emotions that they may not even know are affecting them. It is vital that students know how to honor and feel their feelings without acting on them. It is vital that students be able to recognize what feelings others are experiencing.
- Convert detention to mindfulness training. Rather than having a punitive, isolating experience, teach children how to settle into themselves and how to be mindful.
- Make sure every student in the school is known by at least one teacher. This means a detailed knowing, such as that student’s interests and something about their family. Are they connected through organizations and friendships at school or are they isolated? At staff meetings, hold up a photo of every student. If at least one teacher does not know something about them, assign a teacher to learn what that student enjoys doing, loves learning about, and has dreams of doing. Make sure everyone is known and connected.
- Recognize loss. If a student experiences a loss of a family members, make sure it is recognized one-on-one and that they are supported.
- Ask manufacturers for a voluntary end to distribution and marketing of assault weapons in the United States while legislation is being enacted.
- Ban assault weapons. This does work. We are the only country in the world with this problem, and the common denominator is access to weapons of war. This saves lives. If not a permanent ban, find a time frame – a five-year or ten-year ban – and measure the impact.
- Do a massive, generous buy back of assault weapons. This does work.
- Make financial transparency, including listing donors, mandatory in any group that contributes to political campaigns.
- Enact campaign finance reform.
- Raise the minimum wage so parents do not have to work multiple jobs to support their families. That means more time with their families.
- Begin including Restorative Justice practices so that people repair the harm of crime and experience accountability rather than blame and punishment. That is where true change starts. The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding and Centre for Justice and Reconciliation are places to begin.
- Implement a Department of Peacebuilding at the national level. This will not duplicate work of the Department of State. It will, however, shift the focus to peace and that includes solutions for domestic gun violence. Learn more here.