Straight Talk Advice

Safe schools — panel weighs in with solutions

Jan 01, 2013

Dear Readers: The best ‘in-school’ solution I know to make schools places where kids are welcomed by their peers, versus places of harm, is the “Safe School Ambassadors” program. The program works with human nature: Kindness is contagious — if a popular kid does it.

The Safe School Ambassadors program takes select teachers and the most popular kids from every clique on campus and honors them with effective peacemaker training. Former bullies are now those giving a hand. Others are now brave enough to intervene when they see signs of bullying or exclusion. I contacted some “Ambassadors” and this indeed happens — consistently in over 1000 schools (read our column APR 27, 2011). The program is brilliant, proven and affordable. For more information, see www.community-matters.org.

For today’s column, I asked the panel what would make our schools safer. Their ideas are excellent and root-cause oriented: Stop drugging our kids. Stop glorifying their killers. Free childhood of television and video games and enrich it with art, nature, nobility and brotherhood. Replace our national obsession with violence with an obsession for education and mental health. And until the train wreck stops: Arm select teachers.

It is a wise culture that listens to their youth. —Lauren

Brie 21, San Francisco Ask me a question

Most perpetrators of school shootings were on psychotropic drugs, many known for increasing thoughts of suicide and death. Yet these drugs are rampantly overprescribed to millions of children with almost zero oversight or consideration of alternatives. Then, there are video games. Even children playing “harmless” games lose social skills. I was nanny to kids so socially awkward! They couldn’t pry themselves from virtual reality long enough to say three words. As kids move into more violent games, their only “friends” are online instead of at school. The desensitization and real-world disconnection are serious problems. Until we stop drugging our kids and parking them in front of nonstop virtual violence, we need to train and arm select teachers who could respond immediately in a tragic situation.

Colin 19, Los Angeles Ask me a question

First off, the idea of “gun-free zones” is incredibly stupid. They actually help criminals by disarming law-abiding citizens. Secondly, responsible psychologists (as opposed to the ones on the news), agree that mass shootings are committed by disturbed individuals who know their killing spree will make them feared, famous, the dark anti-hero, a global household name. And who makes them famous? The news. Specifically television news (the real cancer killing America). Such deeds should get minimal coverage, the killer no recognition. Yet the breathtakingly irresponsible coverage by mainstream media shows just how little they care about children’s lives if it conflicts with ratings.

Lara 21, Concord, Calif. Ask me a question

The problem is deeper than gun control. School violence is directly correlated to materialism, individualism, lack of community and human disconnection. We need to change consciousness away from our obsession with violence and toward an obsession with education and mental health. Video games and violent movies desensitize our children from feeling empathy. Everywhere in our schools, I would add Waldorf educational methods — and art. Children would be tested less and do more hands-on work. Families would be encouraged to eliminate TV and “screen time” in favor of getting children outdoors. Children would feel part of an interconnected human family on one planet, not puppets of a “corporatocracy”, isolated and divided against each other by material gratification.

Ryann 16, Tustin, Calif. Ask me a question

After childhood at a small private school, I now attend public high school. The most apparent difference is the study and practice of faith. Faith gives young people a sense of direction, guidance and belonging. If we implemented some sort of faith or “higher” consciousness into our schools, students would feel part of something larger and nobler — thus decreasing the chances of helplessness and isolation.

Editor's Note: It is up to every parent to become involved in their child’s education. School today is many a child’s top site for receiving psycho-emotional harm — which is why schools are targets. If you cannot afford private school, or there is no public Waldorf-inspired (or other inspirational) charter school in your area, consider going to work for a private school, start a charter, or join a home school community. Or fundraise with other parents to put the Safe School Ambassadors program into your public school. It actively puts noble values into the school — through the contagion of kindness. Your school will become one with nonexistent fights and kids who are happy to be there. Read our column of APR 27, 2011 for a picture painted by the Ambassadors themselves. To contact the program directly, visit www.community-matters.org. 

I want to point out that every family controls the electronic on-off switch in their home. The commercial media we put in front of our kids is the nanny from hell. Up until high school, I raised four kids with no TV or computer and they thanked me during the process. It did not set them back. Or even make them feel insulated. Quite the contrary. They were highly social and raising them was a joy. Their bodies were active. Their minds were engaged, resourceful, and with self-control (lack of control is what most kids are drugged for). Plus, there was no begging for sugary junk foods because they never saw it advertised — thus even more body-centered self-confidence for them. 

A note about mental illness and disorders: Yes, they are on the rise. Today’s kids are the fourth generation of humans eating a far-from-ideal (some would say, tragic) human diet. Dr. Pottenger ended his experiment with cats fed a sub-optimal diet at the fourth generation because there was so much mental illness. He returned the cats to their ideal diet and it took seven generations for them to return to perfect health. Humans are at that juncture now and it is of utmost importance that we “reverse the experiment” and return to an ideal diet, too. It is our only solid hope for the future. The only ideal diet I have found is the diet discovered by Dr. Weston Price of select traditional peoples, all whom enjoyed perfect health. —Lauren

Straight Talk TnT is a 501c3 nonprofit. Thanks to donations like yours, our acclaimed column reaches over 1 million people a week!  

  1. By Anonymous from Sacramento on 01/02/2013

    I empathize with the panel’s opinion’s on computer games, but in some cases does anyone consider that there is little other choice?  I went to Waldorf, but while I wasn’t bullied with direct actions, I was ostracized and mocked behind my back.  I had no friends, and whenever I did reach out I was coldly ignored.  Playing games and reading was a nice escape from a reality where the supposedly ‘nicest’ and ‘warmest’ and most ‘human-connection’ oriented people were.  It wasn’t my experience.

    I agree, too much time spent gaming or watching tv or anything can be unhealthy.  Balance in anything is what is essential.  But there came a time in my life if I hadn’t been able to zone out of reality with games I would have been even worse off than I was.  As it stands I’m still into a good game with an interesting story and interesting characters.

    Anyways I just wanted to point out it isn’t that simple.  It’s not just black and white.  There isn’t one ‘right’ school, and even the supposedly best school will have its black spots.  I was one of those black spots.  Maybe it would have been worse if I went to public school, I don’t know.  All I can say is where I was it was bad enough, and games helped me escape from that.

    Reply to this comment

  2. By Lauren Forcella from Sebastopol, CA on 01/02/2013

    Dear Anonymous, Thank you for writing. I’m sorry for your experience and you are correct that there is no perfect system anywhere. I’m glad you found a reasonably innocuous way to cope. Everyone medicates to some degree, if they are at all honest with themselves, it’s just finding the level and type of “medication” that doesn’t cause additional harm—and staying out of denial and striving to “upgrade” the “medication” with time so that you become healthier and healthier.

    I am speaking metaphorically of course, and our “medications” can be anything from shopping to overwork to heroin. Obviously shopping or overworking is a better medication than heroin. Everyone is on their own journey. Those of us who care just hope that journey is always heading in the general direction of wakefulness and toward an increase of happiness.

    Many find that reaching out to others, or including faith/higher purpose in one’s life, is a huge source of happiness.

    Thanks again for your comment on this. Best to you always!
    Lauren

    Reply to this comment

Comment Form

Straight Talk Advice Recommends