How do we keep our youth from pulling the triggers?
Why are our youth firing?
Perhaps because no one is there to help them put the gun down.
I remember watching scenes in films back in the day where a trauma stricken adult is visibly shaken and distraught held a gun up or strapped with a bomb detonator ready to end it all. Then just in the knick of time some empathetic paid civil servant would walk toward them talking calmly with their hands up, softly telling them all the reasons they are too good to commit this harmful act. They always succeeded in saving all the lives of everyone involved.
The beauty in this depiction is this can actually be a reality now more than ever, the horror is that our paid civil servants aren't empathetic and act and are as triggered as the proposed villains, our youth. What turns this horror into a tragedy is that our youth are now riddled with fears of death in a place they spend more time at than home. Fearing that their already short life will be cut shorter.
It’s not new news that people of color in America are dealing with and sifting through years of trauma through oppression. The gun is automatically reloaded with every incident, and every time we are triggered, we shoot… At ourselves. While as the human race, we are beginning to see importance of self care, are we learning enough about the root? Are we receiving enough information to support beginning the work of healing? So many of us want to do more, in fact studies show that more people of color go into various types of social work than any other. I believe it’s because people of color have an uncanny ability to be empathetic (or is it empathy if we’ve most likely experience the things we want to “fix”?) but are we doing ourselves a disservice by not properly healing ourselves first?
Yes. We are also doing a disservice by not getting to the root of things on an individual basis before trying to attack a more global issue. That's a whole other story! But, when I watched Nadine Burke Harris’ TED Talk about the effects of adverse childhood experiences I was blown away. It’s amazing that finally what’s been spoken about in theory about the lasting effects of childhood adversities had now developed in a way that now have test to identify the level of the effects your childhood traumas could be currently affecting you and how it shows up. This is great for adults but even more great for our youth. The ACE scores on a scale from 1-10, each being the number of adverse childhoods experiences you have ranging from sexual abuse to parents getting a divorce. A point is given for each adversity you’ve experienced. Most have an average of 3. The study also shares that the higher your ACE score the more likely you are to develop diseases from heart disease to diabetes.
This is only a beginning step to a bigger problem which is youth not being supported and adults not supporting themselves enough to be present, and lastly, spaces being created to support but fall short in truly helping in a more concentrated way.
“We need a shot of wheatgrass over here!” so it can go straight to the blood, but actually we need a complete shift in the diet!
The school system and many other organizations have low key taken this “don't ask, don't tell” approach with our youth and it is failing. Youth spend 6-9 hours a day in school, why don’t you know about how their lives are affecting them? Their lives affect everything about them, from their learning style to the temperature of their moods. How is this not important enough? Statistics show that one caring adult, above all, is the single most important tool to support the shift in the trajectory in trauma sensitive youth (i.e a young person with a high ACE score.) Where they at though?!
In February of 2018, Miami-Dade schools requested $30 Million dollars to protect against school schoolings. I was stunned to learn that they were provided $10 Million dollars to bring armed guards in all public in charter schools. Some of these gunmen/women will be making a six figure salary to… Well, you know. Protect. The movements are swift and it’s clear that lobbying and kickbacks are alive and well; but as people who claim to “want our children safe” how are we providing that with armed beings in an already sterile space that has maintained the same dulling smell and look of jail for decades? How will this render any different outcomes? How are we really attending to trauma?
Mass school shootings are steadily rising it’s time for educational institutions to clean out those dusty books, cabinets and begin to get these 6 things poppin...
1. Get a damn mission statement because we are all trying to figure out what you been trying to do all these years with the redundancy that exist within the structure and system. Who are all these test actually for? Who are you really trying to make better and how do you see that happening? Because, it’s not been and actually, all the people who’ve done it in the biggest ways didn’t really get there because of what you taught.
2. Get teachers who care, give them money that will continue to grow like the time their investing, and give them space to be creative with the work they are meant to do. Yes, we know, it’s so much more fun to use the same books, same standards, and teach about Christopher Columbus, but honestly the internet is here to stay and we found out about his ass and we not rockin' with Chris like that. Also, children learn from people they actually like, find some swaggy folks that will appeal to them. The entertainment industry does a great job at that, probably why so many youth want to be in entertainment. (((SHURGS))) Maybe!
3. Shift the way the schools look, smell, and classroom structures. I know! You are getting kids ready for jail. Right now we are having murals on the outside of schools and blood splatter on the inside. Whether it be a jail, in a cubical or on an island run by a private corporation, but we got a world to heal and you been at that for a minute now. You have so many wins with that! Lets try something different. Lets create an open floor plan or circles or study group classes so they actually learn how to work with each other as well!
4. PROGRAMING! There are loads of amazingly smart, thoughtful, caring and beneficial programing that you are not allowing in because of various nonsensical reasons. Programs that are beneficial will shift your staff and students alike. It’s likely you have overworked teachers doing what they don’t want to do. Let's think about some of the issues adults have and lets get some preventative programs in like: Financial literacy programs, mentorship programs, self-help and wellness programs, etc and lets add interactivity and reading to this. Right now teachers are teaching in an abstract way that doesn’t relate to real life in a real way or even using real things to teach it. Like, why isn’t match taught using money for real? Anyway… While we are at it, allow these programs to be sustainable and scalable. Lets make them year round and allow the levels to grow from year to year, sort of like what you did with math, and english… and reading… Yea, LIKE THAT! We got this!
5. GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS. There is no universal way to teach, and actually learning is a completely supplemental process. Know the needs of your students in your school, and if you want to do it all the way right make schools catered to different types of students that have encountered trauma with programs specifically positioned for them to get what they need to thrive. Think about the context of the life of a child that lives in an environment that suffocates their ability to see any good in the world, then think about what they need.
6. Support healing. The healing of your staff first, then the healing of the youth they are meant to support. so it Rhetoric, narrative- whatever word you need to use
The fact is, the rising of school shooting, youth crimes, sex trafficking, and more are happening because our youth not schools where people actually care about their wellbeing like that hero in the movie; who is actually only a “hero” because they seem to care.
So how do we as human adults sweep in like that civil servant superhero and help our youth not pull the trigger? Learn their triggers, and dismantle it.