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Wednesday , October 17 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: school shooting

Tag Archives: school shooting

Op-Ed: To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Another week, another bunch of dead school kids, mowed down in another act of gun violence. Yawn. This week Santa Fe, Texas. Last week Indiana. Next week, who knows where. Have you been keeping count? Probably not.

These shootings have become as commonplace as afternoon pileups on I10 at rush hour and your response is probably is just the same: drive by slowly, stare for a second, shake your head at the carnage, then zoom off to your destination as if nothing happened. “Glad that wasn’t me or someone I know.”

Never mind that more students died this year because of gun violence than all the military-related deaths combined. Think about that for a second: Being a student in our schools is more deadly than being a soldier.

Welcome to the NRA’s America. For foreign exchange student Sabika Sheikh, Santa Fe Texas was deadlier than her home of Karachi, Pakistan. Welcome to the United States of Gunmerica.

When our monthly student sacrifices to the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers occur, it is not unusual for “concerned” politicians to jump in front of the nearest camera and offer their “thoughts and prayers” even before the corpses have been piled into the awaiting ambulances and returned to their grieving families.

Texas Lt. Governor, Dan Patrick, an NRA cocotte and proud funding recipient, after offering meaningless thoughts and prayers, immediately blamed the number of doors in the school as a root cause of the gun massacre. He added “too many doors” to his ever growing list of things that are responsible for mass shootings, including abortion, no prayers in schools, violent video games, bad parenting, and poor mental health.

Like all good NRA toadies, he skillfully avoided mentioning guns as having anything to do with gun violence.

t is a tactic used by all politicians that do the bidding of the death manufacturers: Blame anything BUT the actual cause of death. Like a delusional fan of the losing football team, the blame is directed towards anything but the actual reason: The refs were against us, the weather was bad, the other team cheated, the ball was deflated.

Similar scams have come from the tobacco companies blaming everything from alcohol to mouthwash to salted fish for lung cancers and the fossil fuel industry blaming the sun and algae for global warming, the NRA propped puppets continue to insist that guns have nothing to do with all those children having their heads exploded and internal organs turned into hamburger.

Oh, and by the way, by God if you disagree, you hate the Constitution, the Second Amendment, the baby Jesus, America and apple pie. Get out of here you stinking libtard. My pursuit to fondle cold steel happiness trumps your right to life and liberty.

Besides, happiness is a warm gun. Even John Lennon said so. (Slate has a nice article that documents 100 years of the NRA blaming everything but guns for gun violence.)

Didn’t anyone find it a bit convenient that our Governor, another NRA funding stooge who loves to be suggestively photographed holding guns, immediately called for a round table discussion to discuss ways to “fix the problem” as if he was just waiting for the next massacre to occur?

To me, it was a bit too staged and ready to go. Why no roundtables after Ft. Hood? After Sutherland Springs? That “roundtable” was plotted long before Santa Fe. It could have been after an El Paso school, or a Houston school, or an Odessa school. Who cares as long as we look like we are concerned before the fall elections? We are Texans. We care. Trust us.

“Everyone wants to talk about what the problem is. By now, we know what the problem is. The problem is that innocent people are being shot and that must be stopped.” said Abbot. But he does not know what “the problem” is if he believes, like his Lt. Governor, that somehow, adding more guns to a gun problem will fix the gun problem.

He routinely told the Obama administration that Texans would never agree to common sense gun control measures, and even dared the Federal government to come and take his guns. (http://reverbpress.com/news/texas-guns-greg-abbott/) What a brave guy.

Sadly however, that kind of macho ammosexual bravado plays well to his poorly educated, mostly white, mostly male, evangelical Christian Trump loving base who have been brainwashed into thinking that anyone with a (D) after their name is somehow wanting to come steal their guns. Don’t look for the Guv to stop talking like that anytime soon.

So the roundtable focused on “common sense” solutions to the school shooting problem. Those “common sense” solutions included NRA backed ideas like “hardening the target” of the schools, adding more police to schools, and arming teachers. In other words, the solution is to turn public school campuses into prisons and add more guns to the situation.

Never once was the idea that maybe just maybe, the problem might be the easy availability of the over 300,000,000 (yes that is the correct number) guns floating around the homes and streets of these good old United States. Of that number, 51 million, or close to 20%, belong to Texans. Never once did anyone say “Hey, kids can get a hold of assault weapons, rifles, handguns with ease.”

Kids can shoot a whole bunch of other kids with impunity. It happens in “hardened schools” it happens in schools with armed security guards, it happens with legally and illegally purchased guns. Nope, you wont hear a Texas Republican blaming guns for anything other than another outstanding hunting season.

Let’s be clear: The only common denominator in every school shooting is guns.

G-U-N-S

Period.

Each shooter was able to easily acquire guns, either by stealing them, taking them from their parent’s locked gun cabinets, buying them, borrowing them or just because they had them ever since they were kids. Some were even presents from their 2nd Amendment loving, highly trained militia member parents.

Whose child has to die, how many students to be maimed, how many families destroyed until we come to our collective senses? What is your acceptable sacrificial number that you are willing to give to the gun rights groups and their political pishers before you move your mind? Does it have to be your own child or grandchild dying? Or is even your own flesh and blood not enough?

When will YOU say enough is enough? Or will you continue to just drive by slowly and look at the carnage without doing anything about it except sending your thoughts and prayers?

Not until everyone with a shred of common sense sees that guns are the problem, until the NRA purchased politicians are either voted out or have a come to Jesus moment and see that is not video games, not doors, not abortions, not mental health, then we simply will never fix the problem and we will watch helplessly as another shooting takes place next month.

Sabika Sheikh said in a speech at a meeting of foreign exchange students, that she “prayed every night to wake up to a world of peace.” Prayed every night.

Like the prayers that come from the parents of the dead babies at Newtown, and the dead teenagers at Parkland and Columbine, and now the dead and maimed in Santa Fe Texas.

All those prayers going unanswered.

All those scattered bodies.

The prayers aren’t working. It is time to change the strategy.

***

Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

After Santa Fe Shooting, Gov. Abbott Sees West Texas Mental Health Program as Statewide Model

A Lubbock-based program seeing success helping prevent at-risk students from committing violent acts is getting more attention after Gov. Greg Abbott touted it as a potential statewide model to reduce school shootings the day after a student allegedly shot 10 people to death at his a southeast Texas high school.

The Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral Project at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center works to identify junior high and high school students most at risk for committing violence in schools and intervene before it happens.

At Santa Fe High School on Friday, police said 17-year-old junior Dimitrios Pagourtzis, armed with his father’s legally-owned shotgun and .38 revolver, killed eight students and two teachers and wounded 10 others. Pagourtzis, who had written about his plans in his journal but otherwise showed no obvious danger signs according to Abbott, has been charged with capital murder and remains in Galveston County Jail without bond, the school district said.

Abbott alluded to Tech’s program in a Friday tweet, saying “we want to use it across the state.”

But could it identify, and stop, someone like the alleged Santa Fe shooter?

Billy Philips, executive vice president for rural and community health at Tech’s Health Sciences Center, said he “was a bit surprised” to hear Abbott mention the program, which he said has seen success but is still being refined and perfected.

Philips said the project has found students at West Texas schools possessing notes, maps, threats and other evidence that they may have been planning a mass shooting. He said the screenings have helped avert violent incidents and got students the help they needed.

“The aim of it is really to provide just one more tool to be sure that our schools are safe,” Philips said. “To make sure that our kids have the opportunity to not worry while they’re in school, to create a peace about it so they can learn and grown and share ideas … things we all did when we were in school.”

The program launched in 2014, in response to a pair of mass shootings in 2012: A theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed 12 people and injured 70 others and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six adult staff members dead.

The Criminal Justice Division of Abbott’s office funded the program with a $565,000 grant.

Through the program, at-risk students at 10 West Texas school districts who show aggressive or harmful behavior are identified and then screened for potential psychiatric services. Parents have to consent each step of the way. Students first receive two psychiatry sessions at school — in which they use laptops to video conference with a child adolescent psychiatrist working remotely — and additional psychiatric services are provided through the center’s clinic.

Since its launch, more than 400 students have been referred to the program, with 200 getting screened for anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation — and whether they’re prone to violence or violent thoughts. Those screenings can lead to psychiatric appointments and sometimes immediate hospitalizations and arrests for planning violent incidents like shootings, according to an April 30 brief that Tech’s Health Sciences Center published about the program.

In four years, the program has had 25 students removed from school, 44 placed in alternative schools and 38 sent to a hospital.

The project also measures success through changes in grades, truancy referrals and discipline referrals. So far,  Philips said, the program has seen a 37 percent drop in referrals for students who received services.

He said the program also helps the targeted schools amid a statewide shortage of mental health professionals. Philips said before the program, students would sometimes have to wait weeks to get an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Using telemedicine, “we can get those links in moments and those moments can be critical in some situations,” he said.

Philips said the program is looking to expand into five more school districts.

“We’ve got about a third of our kids in schools these days who are troubled by some form of mental illness either directly or because they live in a home environment where someone has trouble,” Philips said. “The services need to be there for them, the people need to be there that are trained to help with mental health issues. This is one approach that we use in schools that seems to be very effective.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: MARISSA EVANS – The Texas Tribune

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