Archives for posts with tag: Child Safety and Welfare

For the people of Newtown, Connecticut, Christmas came and Christmas went. Packages were opened, gifts were handed out, shrieks of childhood joy filled the homes of the Connecticut town. New Year’s Day came and went as well, as people counted down 2016 in the hopes of a better 2017.

For 26 families in Newton, the celebration was somewhat somber if not muted. 20 children will never see another Christmas or leave milk and cookies for Santa. Six teachers will never exchange gifts with families and friends. They will never see a New Year’s Day Parade or football game, go to a prom, get married or have their own children.

December 14th marked the four-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took their lives. On December 14th, the town held a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the shooting. In their honor and to remember those that perished, Newtown first selectman Pat Llodra asked town employees to refrain from doing any work, including answering phones, between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., the time that the shootings took place. As for the schools in Newton, it was going to be a regular school day but School Superintendent Joseph Erardi said there would be quiet reflections and age-appropriate messages for students.

While the rest of America on the East coast was getting ready to start their school day and most of America was about to start their workday or go Christmas shopping, Adam Lanza decided to take matters into his own hands by first shooting and killing his mother, then go on his rampage, which ended with his death at his own hands.

President Barack Obama said in a Facebook post that the anniversary was a day to remember staff and teachers who guided children to safety, the first responders and the victims.

“And we remember the children who held each other in the face of unconscionable evil; who, even as they’ve grown up in the shadow of this tragedy, will grow up loved and cared for more fiercely than ever,” Obama wrote.

26 people dead. Murdered. They will never meet Santa, will never go to a Christmas party or a Midnight mass again. Their parents, families and friends deprived of love and joy because of a crazed man that decided to take himself out of the world instead of facing justice. This is in no way an attempt to get rid of guns or do away with the 2nd Amendment; rather, this is the time for medical experts, educators, victims and the advocates of those that are no longer with us, legislators and the NRA to sit at table and have a meaningful discussion. It’s not going to be easy and there will be resistance but if even one life is saved, it’s worth the battle.

In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day. Cards will be passed out and exchanged and cupcakes will be consumed. For Sandy Hook Elementary School, there will be 26 fewer cards passed out and 26 fewer cupcakes eaten. Here’s to hoping that Lanza’s name will never pass the lips of those that are still there, that it will NEVER be uttered again, either here on Earth or in Heaven. Here’s to hoping that those cupcakes will be consumed and those cards passed out in their honor.

A lawmaker from South Dakota wants the school children in his state to have their genitals inspected before they can play sports in the state.

You read that correctly.

According to “If Only You News,” Roger Hunt wants school children in the state of South Dakota that play high school sports to have their privates checked to determine what gender they are. The Republican senator came up with the sick idea that minors in South Dakota schools wants them to expose their genitals to school administrators before they can take the field.

Senator Hunt, you are a pedophile. Mr. Hunt, you are a sick man that deserves to be flogged. There is NO way in Hell that a parent would even allow this to happen and there is no way on this Earth that this “legislation” would ever be passed and if it is, expect it to die before the governor of the state even signs it. No school district would ever sign off on it and any school district that even thinks about it should lose their license. This is not just illegal, it’s immoral, not to mention unfair to the children of the state of South Dakota that trust not only their parents but their teachers and coaches.

Senator Hunt, you are a sandwich short of a picnic, using your public office to attack citizens that you are supposed to represent. This is cowardice in the highest form and no athlete, parent, student, coach or administrator should comply. This so-called legislation is not worth the time, energy, effort, paper or printer ink it took to create. This legislation is so bad even Satan wants nothing to do with it. This is stupidity, it’s COWARDICE, plain and simple and it will go over as well as a lead balloon. What in the hell were you thinking, Senator? More importantly, were you thinking? If the voters of your district recall you, it’s your own damned fault. BUGGER OFF!

Senator Hunt, you are a sick, petty, evil little man. You are a buffoon. Butt out of the lives and pants of the children. Keep your hands to yourself, sir, because if you don’t, you will have some really angry parents at your door and if one of them goes “mama bear” on you, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Leave the children of South Dakota alone.

Unless you want the wrath of angry parents on your head.

when the final report on the Sandy Hook School shooting comes out, a name that many do not wish to hear will be mentioned only once and for good reason. In the report that was to be finalized February 13th, one day before many American school children exchange Valentines Cards and eat Valentine’s Day snacks until they erupt like tiny volcanones will have the man that caused Newton, Connecticut grief and misery will be mentioned by name only once.

The report will mention Adam Lanza by name at first in the report, which will be made public and then listed by AL for the remainder of the report.

The 20-year old Lanza began his rampage of murder and terror on December 12 of 2012 when he shot his mother Nancy at their house in Newtown before going to the school and proceeded to kill 20 students and six teachers before taking his own life.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s Report, according to the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press, also makes recommendations to school design and mental health services. The 16-member panel was convened by Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy and recently met in Hartford for one of their final public meetings.

The report also includes proposals for better communication between local and state police, designing new schools to keep out potentially violent intruders and upgrading mental health protocols to provide help for troubled students. It also recommended the state develop support teams to deploy to schools hit by attacks or other tragedies to help administrators manage security and personnel and provide mental health services during a crisis. Commission Chairman Scott Jackson told the Associated Press and the Hartford Courant, “This is an important day in our two-year odyssey. After creating an executive summary over the next two weeks, we will be ready to finalize and release this long-awaited report.”

The commission is also debating if there are going to be 27 victims, adding Lanza’s mother to the list. They should. After all, he was his first victim.

A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s report references 26 victims. Commissioner Harold Schwartz asked at a hearing Friday why Nancy Lanza should not also be considered a victim. Although the commission ultimately agreed to leave her name out, Schwartz suggested mentioning her at least in a footnote.

“I’m not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim,” said Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and bought the rifle he would use in the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home, surrounded by an arsenal of firearms as he whiled away hours playing violent video games. Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims’ families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza’s name on the same page with those of their loved ones. While that question is somewhat vexing, others think that Nancy Lanza was and is a victim and should be included in the report.

The commission chairman, Scott Jackson, said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.

“I think that’s why number 27 is always so difficult, because there’s so much we don’t know,” said Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.

On that day, which ironically was a Friday, school children all over the country and even in Newtown exchanged Valentine’s Day parties in their classrooms, exchaning cards and feasting on Valentine’s Day candy. There will be 20 fewer students and six fewer adults that were not with them. They were taken from us by AL and his hate and rage. Adam Lanza could have faced justice and the worst he could or would have gotten would have been the death penalty and even then he would be sitting on death row while the appeals process does what it needs to do. Instead, Adam Lanza or AL chose the coward’s way out, shooting himself. In a few months, the house where the horror started will be turned into rubble and will exist no more.

On February 13, the world no longer heard Adam Lanza’s name. He will be a distant memory that does not deserve to be mentioned or uttered in our lifetimes ever again. As a reporter covering the hangings of the Booth conspirators in 1865 wrote, “we wish to hear their names no more.” The report will have the 20 names listed in alphabetical order, a roll call for a class if you will. Their names deserve to be mentioned along with the six adults who were doing nothing more than being their teachers, mentors, protectors and friends. 20 angels, whose parents have been cheated out of seeing them in prom dresses or tuxes, caps and gowns and even wedding dresses will have the final word. On February 13, Sandy Hook and Newtown got their wish. Adam Lanza was and is a bad memory.

We say good riddance to bad rubbish.

While most schools have already started and others will start after Labor Day, a letter was written to teachers in Sandy Hook. It wasn’t just any letter. It was a letter written by the mother of one of the young victims. It was a letter that needs to be read by everyone.

Nebla Marquez-Greenhad is the mother of two children that attended Sandy Hook Elementary; they were both present the day of the shooting, but tragically her daughter Ana Grace was killed in the massacre. Her letter, which was posted on the Education Week website, is so powerful. It goes out to all teachers but anyone that works with children, whether they’re teachers, paraprofessionals, volunteers, coaches, et all as well as the gun right zealots need to read this.

Here is the entire letter, courtesy of the Education Week website.

“As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.  

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on December 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.  

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.  

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.  

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.
 
Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.  

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.  

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.  

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward. 

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.  

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”  

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.”  

This school year, pray for the teachers, the children and the parents. Keep everyone in your thoughts and may God protect them. Life and love are precious gifts; never take them for granted. 

6-year old Ana Grace will never get to read that letter, play with her classmates on the playground or be in a Christmas pagent. Her short life on this Earth came to a tragic end the week before Christmas when a gunman with nothing on his agenda but anger and hate came to her school and shot 26 people, of which 20 were her classmates and six teachers. There needs to be a civil and serious dialouge about guns and school violence. 20 kids will never know the experience of meeting new teachers and classmates, they’ll never get to trade lunches in the lunchrooms, go to recess or fingerpaint. A madman that pulled the trigger will never face justice because he chose to be a coward and take himself out of the picture.

While there are some of us that are saying that guns are bad, it’s not the gun that is the problem. It’s the person that pulls the trigger that is the problem. We need to work together to strenghten the laws that are on the books, not weaken them. The right to own a gun is not the issue. The issue is that there are those that do not deserve to have a weapon, due to a criminal record, mental instablity or a dishonest gun salesman that put money over lives and doesn’t do the background checks.

26 lives lost. Gone. Never to walk this Earth again. The best thing we as a community can do is to make sure our children are safe and if it means changing a law that benefits the living while making sure that law-abiding gun owners have their rights protected, then so be it. It’s not about taking away guns. It’s about keeping them out of the hands of those that don’t deserve or need them.

As children walk into their schools, whether they are public, private or parochial this Fall, let’s remember those that will not walk into a school because of gun violence, including those in Sandy Hook and hope they walk out of them better than we dropped them off in the morning, fed, educated, loved.

And safe.