Come to forum on keeping children safe from gun violence
No instinct is more compelling than the need to protect one’s offspring — no matter how old they get.
It is difficult for me to accept that this is something I can no longer control, and never could, not really.
I’m a big believer, as John Gray has written in his weekly column, about telling people you love that you love them, giving them a hug whenever you can, and not taking them for granted. Terrible, irreversible things can happen in the unexpected blink of an eye.
Yet some things we take for granted, and we should. When we send a child off to school, we expect to see them at day’s end. We never dream that they might be murdered in the haven of their classroom. But the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month reminded us that nightmares can happen. And, as we’ve seen in Saratoga Springs this weekend, that horrible shooting has aroused tremendous emotions and a call to action among people who believe more gun control is needed. The topic is emotional and, unfortunately, can get downright nasty.
Honestly, I don’t know enough about guns, the laws and the proposals at hand to tell you what kind of new federal and state legislation would be needed. But I am reading up on it. And I intend to attend the forum on school safety being presented later this month by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga, Schenectady and Albany counties.
The forum titled “Keeping Our Children Safe from Gun Violence in Schools,” will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Ballston Spa High School.
Susan Arbetter will moderate the two-hour forum, which will include representation from the media, the mental health community and five statewide organizations: the Council of School Superintendents, New York State United Teachers, New York State PTA, the New York State Police, and the League of Women Voters.
Shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Saratoga league president thought there might be interest locally in a forum, and I jumped on the opportunity for The Saratogian to co-sponsor it through promotional advertising, to help spread the word.
The league has a position in favor of “reasonable gun control,” but the focus of the forum is broader. The issues go beyond gun control, including care for the mentally ill and strategies for protecting students and adults in our schools.
No one thing, no law, no protocol can guarantee our children’s safety in school or anywhere else. But progress can be made by addressing the concerns and considering the options in civil, thoughtful discourse that is being provided by the league with its forum.
After all, we all want the same thing: to keep our children safe.
The forum will be moderated by Susan Arbetter, capitol correspondent for WCNY in Syracuse.
The panelists and their topics are:
• Dr. James Kelleher of Four Winds Hospital, on what mental health issues must be addressed to stop school shootings.
• Dr. Oliver Robinson, Shenendehowa school superintendent and representative of the statewide Council of School Superintendents, on what support superintendents need to keep their schools safe.
• Karen Parlapiano of the state PTA, on how parents are mobilizing and how the community can help.
• Kathleen Donahue of NYSUT, on what teachers need to feel safe.
• Trooper K. McMahon, on what precautions schools are taking to protect students.
• Rosemary Armao of the University at Albany journalism faculty and an international investigative reporter, on whether reporting violence in the media contributes to the problem.
• Aimee Allaud of the statewide League of Women Voters, on what legislative action is needed to reduce gun violence in schools.