Mental Health and Children, My thoughts on Sandy Hook

I dropped my son off at preschool today with an extra hug and kiss good bye.

I looked around at all the innocent joyous children happy and smiling, and instead of making me sad, like I thought it would, it made me smile.

The horrific events that took place at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. have made many parents afraid this week, afraid of a copy cat crime…afraid of loosing our own.  Everyone is more aware, hyper aware that bad things happen and that someone can take away what we love most.

I hope that the murders at Sandy Hook School make all of us appreciate what we have and give us a little more patience with our children- remembering that they are just children and are learning from our example everyday.  I hope that we can treat children that are different with a little more respect and try our best to meet their unique and individual needs.

I don’t believe that Adam Lanza woke up that morning and snapped.  I believe as a social worker that  messages inside his head were not quite right for a long time…could we trace it back even to when he was in elementary school? Maybe we can- maybe this child needed to be placed in a special education classroom with more individual attention- or maybe he needed counseling and careful monitoring of his medications.  Perhaps his mother, father, and/or brother could have benefited from counseling and/or a support group for reacting to his needs.  A better understanding of him, more supportive services for his family, less stigma for his mental illness, more talking and less keeping his secret within the home could have changed everything.

I have read a lot of articles since Friday blaming guns, blaming the mother… to blame seems natural and soothes us a little bit- there has to be someone to blame- a criminal in all this.  It is much easier to blame something, than to look at this event as an unfortunate outcome of an unstable man who did something horrible- why did he choose to take his inner rage out on innocent children?  We might never know.

What can we do now? One thing we can do is look at our children and be honest and true .. not take the easy way out and pretend that they are perfect and all is ok, if it is not.

do they need to be on medication?  do they need to see a therapist- possibly for the rest of their life? do they need to have constant supervision?  do they need a special after school program? Do I as a parent need support? Do we as a family need to secure weapons in our home or not have them at all?  do we as a community need to advocate for more funding for mental health services, grants for big brother/mentor programs, job training and employee assistance programs…

I am Tommy and Adam’s mother and I promise to love them.  I also promise, as I hope more parents will do: to treat them as individuals and be honest if they need help mentally.  If I can’t provide that help I will do my best to advocate and push for what they need from their schools, the state, the feds- whatever it takes.

 

My heart goes out to the families and all those affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the community of Newtown, Conn.   I am so sorry for your loss and so saddened for you that you have to endure this pain.  I have cried every day and pray that there will be some positive changes after this horrible event. 

 

 

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