Stand up. Speak Up. It’s Your Turn.
As a father of three children, all of whom attended public schools K-12, I am very disheartened to see the violence that has come to our schools. When we sent our children to school, we always thought of it as being a safe place where our children learned and played during school years. Now it appears that the world has changed. You must get buzzed in, there is a police presence at schools, and safety locks are now being installed.
What has happened to create this new era in our history? Gun violence has become pervasive and the number of shootings seem to have become part of the everyday news. When a child or teacher is the victim, we ask why? The real question is how do we stop this all too common occurrence? It is now so common that the impact goes away and only those directly involved feel the pain. This violence must stop.
When do we wake up? A 12 year old brings a gun to school in her back pack and the weapon discharges, hitting two other students. This is just another story about what is going on in our world. Our schools have been scenes of events like this happening for a number of years. These schools where young people in grades K to 12 spend most of their time are now considered by many as dangerous places and, in some ways, they are right.
Since the Columbine incident, schools have been the target for many terrible crimes. Our children are sent to school to get an education, enjoy social activity, and be safe. We now serve breakfast to the needy, lunch to all, and at some schools, have an after-school program. We once considered this a safe environment. Now we hold our breath waiting for the next scare and hoping it is not in one of our schools.
When a child is lost, a part of your life goes away and you never get over the deep feeling of sadness. Why does this happen in the greatest country in the world? What has caused this to happen? I don’t have a simple answer, but I ask our society to think about this every day.
The violence that takes place must end. Our children are our future. The school to which you send your child must be safe, and we, as a society, must ensure that this is always the case. When I hear about a shooting at a school – and there seems to be one every day – I think what is wrong with our world. I ask everyone to stop for a moment and ask yourself what you can do to stop a child from being threatened in this way. We must do better.
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro is a 10-term Senator representing District 20. He and his wife Pat live in Manchester have three children, 9 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.