There have been 147 mass shootings this year. In Louisville, KY, four died, and nine people were injured at the hands of a 23-year-old man. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear lost his best friend and said, “Violence tears at the social fabric of our community. What we need now is LOVE and wrap our arms around each other.” So, what can we do to stop mass shootings?
In the past, we have been dealing with symptoms, not solutions. We assume if we had more gun control and mental health facilities, the problem would fade away.
Let’s get real! There are 393.3 million guns in circulation today. As a crime and violence prevention specialist, I know that criminals have hundreds of firearms stashed for easy access or to sell. One inner city ninth grader told me he could leave the classroom and buy a gun within 20 minutes.
America is divided about gun control. Perhaps, politicians can work together on a five-year moratorium on assault weapons to see if mass shootings decrease.
Violence, drugs, abuse, suicide, and homelessness are signs of a failing society. When Americans lack support and self-awareness, we see unchecked violent behavior, which can destroy a once-free nation. We will no longer be the leader of the free world as we become more dependent on the government to fix us.
According to the CDC, at least 1 in 7 children experience child abuse and neglect, the leading cause of death for youth ages 1 to 19, costing $592 billion in 2018. America needs a PREVENTION PLAN OF ACTION.
What are the unaddressed issues that fuel mass shootings and teen violence?
We can expect more mass shootings, with ten million children growing up in abusive homes. Americans must work together to create safe homes and neighborhoods. Let’s discuss two critical solutions.
1. Strengthen parents, guardians, and children!
2. Neighborhood involvement for safety!
Responsible Parenting Empowers Youth:
Children are not born with mental health problems. Children need boundaries and rules and to be accountable for their behavior if we are going to stop mass shootings. Many young people don’t feel loved, needed, or wanted and don’t know how to develop self-control or a self-protective conscience that can keep them safe. Isolated youth don’t know how to handle anger, social isolation, or loneliness. Children need a spiritual understanding of self which can give them a value system to grow strong and resilient. One responsible adult in the family or the neighborhood can change a child’s life. Children learn respect from people who care about them. Families need support groups in churches and connected neighbors to reduce social isolation, which can be deadly. It’s time to focus on young children because once they are teens, it becomes more difficult.
A single parent may be working with little time to spend with children, or they may be victims of abuse. Youth today do not have the support they need that trusted family, friends, and neighbors can provide. Neighbors need to create a community around children. In high-fear areas, we need trained, paid “Neighborhood Safety Experts” to go into neighborhoods and bring people together. When neighbors work together, they build trust, develop friendships, and put a check on bad behavior as they reduce the isolation that negatively affects children. Good neighbors protect, guide, encourage, and can “wrap their arms around each other.” Adults who see bad behavior in young children must be allowed to say something to family members without being dismissive or defensive. Religious groups can reach beyond the church and unite neighbors to provide needed support without proselytizing. Three hundred fifty thousand churches in America can demonstrate the power of “Love thy Neighbor.” “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Together, we can stop mass shootings, or will we continue to blame youth, police, guns, and drugs and ignore what must change to provide love and support for children? Responsible parenting and neighborhood involvement can empower teens to be successful. We must discuss what happened, why we are so violent, and what “we, the people,” can do today to make our communities safe and peaceful for all American families and children.
Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant
Author: “Magical YOU, Empowering Teens to Stay Safe and Healthy in an Unsafe World.” and “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook for Safe Neighborhoods.”