As a mom and an employee in our public school system, I feel for the students, faculty, families, and community of Parkland, Florida in the wake of the tragedy that has beset them with the recent school shooting. These senseless acts of violence are happening too often and our national leadership has almost reacted (or not reacted) with a sense of routine indifference. According to a recent Washington Post story, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Most of these attacks have been carried out with high-powered weapons. To be sure, these are not the weapons that American leaders had in mind when the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1789.
How can we continue to hold ourselves out as world leaders when we cannot protect our children while they in school?
Many of us in Newark have experienced or been touched by gun violence in some way. We have attended funerals for loved ones and those in our communities for decades so we understand the loss of promise, talent, and hope. That is why we must move beyond prayer vigils and memorials and take ACTION! I call on the citizens of Newark and the Central Ward to JOIN ME and to contact our congressional representatives and tell them to ACT now on sensible gun-control legislation. As Americans, we must DEMAND it! Congressional elections are months away and that we must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions to advocate for the change we need and desire to see!
Lastly, we must also address mental health issues, which often go untreated and unspoken of in our homes and communities. We must be willing to work with providers and counselors to offer assistance to those affected by diagnoses of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia when they are young. We must be ready to speak up for those who are unable to do this for themselves.
The change we seek begins with us. Let’s pray with our feet moving. I hope that you will join me.