Dear Editor,

Harden our schools; let’s arm all the good guys in and out of schools. Maybe some of this should be done; however, the problem is not that simplistic. We have a culture of violence in this country. Many individuals do not know how to deal with feelings they experience. Children certainly do not know how to deal with all the feelings they experience. This is especially true with teenagers. Unfortunately, there is not enough positive adult role modeling. That is evidenced by the fact that many people have become accustomed to dealing with negative and intrusive feelings by taking drugs and alcohol. They have become accustomed to acting out with violence. They can harm others; or themselves by “cutting”, eating disorder, and suicide.

We can change that right here in our school by acknowledging the reality of the problem. We can change that by acknowledging the reality of the poor coping skills utilized to address negative feelings. We can change that by acknowledging that we need to teach everyone about feelings. Universalize them and then teach positive coping skills. We need to teach our children that verbalizing their thoughts is positive. We need to take away the feeling of shame that we so freely impart with the judgments we make about specific children, families, and groups of families. We need to stop thinking that teachers can solve every social problem and realize that it does take a village. We need to lift our teachers high and support our educators; but we need to do our part as a community. There needs to be real dialogue about all of this. Then we need to identify solutions. Take all the taboos away and speak truth with honesty. Take our own political views out of the mix. We may not have learned how to deal with feelings of anger, shame, and being inadequate as children but we can sure do that for our children. We need to help our children to succeed. We can teach them math, science, English, Social Studies. All that is important. However, we also need to teach how to live with emotional intelligence.

Bernadette Hackett

District 1