Letter: There Are No Easy Answers
To the Editor:
The National Rifle Association has stated emphatically that the solution to our tragic problem of violence against children is to place an armed guard in every school. That, of course, is hardly an answer. Where would we draw the perimeter? Would we also cover every church and synagogue, every college classroom building and dormitory?
Valley News columnist Steve Nelson recently wrote that what students need is not more guns but more love. There’s truth in that, but love and care for students on school premises is not the answer, either. There’s much more going on behind the scenes that is at issue.
There are children who come to school unprepared or unable to learn. In many cases, they come from homes that have suffered from generations of substance abuse, physical, sexual and emotional violence, and grinding poverty. In parts of Vermont and New Hampshire, these problems are more systemic than in others, but there are pockets in every town. During a recent Christmas season, expensive presents that were purchased for children in need were never opened by the intended recipients — their parents had taken the presents back to the store and exchanged them for necessities such as food.
These children come to school angry as well as hungry. Some escape the downward spiral and become successful. Some turn inward to a life of poor self-esteem and under-performance. Some turn to crime and become another prison statistic, and still others turn to violence for its own sake. Sometimes there are early indicators that identify which young people will become violent deviants. However, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to determine which ones will become murderers and what help each might need to turn the corner — additional economic resources at home, mental health counseling, tutoring or mentoring by a caring adult.
In fact, all of these supports may be needed, which gets us back where we started. There are no easy answers. More specifically, violence in our society is not someone else’s problem. It’s a problem for all of us, and it will take all of our dedicated participation to make a difference.
Rep. Jim Masland, Democrat