It pains me to write this, as there is so much controversy around the subject. But this subject is one of the reasons that JAH Advisory exists today. One of our goals (or signs of success) is to prevent school shootings. I noticed the issues and the chronic stress that people of all ages and backgrounds experience. Most people don’t have the tools to deal with the constant stimulation of today’s world. Too often do we move through the days, weeks, or months without return to a baseline nervous state. We are constantly being stimulated and rarely get a chance to return to rest. This chronic stress builds and builds and builds until one day someone has an outburst, or becomes depressed, or even ill due stress weakening our immune system.
That is why today, I must clearly state what I see happening in our society. One of the biggest questions I had when I began this journey is how do we prevent school shootings? In University, I learned that if you want a lasting treatment to an ailment, then you have to get to the root cause of the issue. In this case it is clear that mental health issues are a huge factor in ALL of these violent situations. What are these issues? It depends on the individual, but many often have deep underlying traumas that have not been addressed. Let’s look at how we can address some of these issues no matter where we are starting from.
Educate staff and students – Everyone together makes our community
Staff and students in schools can work together to build a better community. Often times we hear about talking to a specialist or a counselor, but every relationship has a capacity for us to better understand ourselves, be accountable, and overcome difficulties. If we wait to go to a specialist then we are waiting for issues to come up and by that time it may be too late to prevent a tragedy. We must learn to be present with each other, to practice non judgement, and gratitude for each other. Only then can we thrive in a collective community that is physically, mentally, and emotionally safe.
Teach emotional intelligence and mindfulness
Emotional intelligence (EQ) and mindfulness are important in understanding and managing our emotions, thoughts and behaviours. They can help us to better relate to others, cope with stress and make more positive choices.
We all have a role to play in promoting emotional intelligence and mindfulness in our community. Educating staff and students about these concepts is a good place to start. By raising awareness, we can create a more supportive and understanding environment for everyone. To prevent school shootings we need to direct our energy not towards guns and shooting, but to how we can grow together as a society. Let’s put our energy towards the things we DO want, not the things we don’t want. Ultimately, it begins from within. That is why if every human learned to improve the 5 aspects of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social awareness; then the idea of blaming others for our problems or wanting to arbitrarily hurt others becomes a thing of the past.
Foster a positive school climate and open communication
Communication is important. It is especially important to have difficult conversations and not blame others. In order to have a positive school climate, we should open up the lines of communication and be available to talk about anything that is going on.
We should also encourage our students to be emotionally intelligent and mindful. We can do this by creating an environment where it is safe to express emotions and feelings. We should provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice emotional intelligence and mindfulness throughout the day. Allow students to have a moment to check in with themselves or each other and be honest about how they are feeling.
Monitor social media
And not for the reasons you think. Yes, you can check for threats on social media to prevent school shootings sometimes. However, the signs come much before that. Isolation may be a factor and those who seek to escape from their reality through excessive consumption of tv, video games, or books. If someone is spending excessive time on social media, it usually means they are addicted or avoiding something. It might be worth it to check in with them and see what is going on.
We should also make sure that we are modeling the behavior we want to see from our students. If we are constantly checking our phones, then they will think it is okay to do so as well. We should put away our phones during class and have face-to-face interactions with our students. It’s about being present with each other and having stronger relationships that we can place our trust in.
It Takes Work
These are just 4 ways that we can take action to prevent school shootings. When everything is considered, it is always an internal battle. If someone wants to do harm, they will find a way. Any conversation otherwise (like gun control) is only distracting and diminishing the mental health crisis we are facing. It’s illegal to kill people, but people who are SICK will do it anyway. These individuals are mentally ill. There is a lack of presence, accountability, and overall mental resilience. And that’s why we as a society need to get back in the mental gym.
Practice mindfulness, stop looking for a dopamine kick every time we put our hands in our pocket and grab the phone. Learn to be with difficult emotions and overcome them. That’s how we understand ourselves – not by wanting everything around/about us to change and then throwing a tantrum when we can’t get what we want (which is what so much of society deems acceptable today). So let’s step up!
We have several resources available for anyone who wants to practice mindfulness and learn more about emotional intelligence.