The memorial stone in front of the redwood Diversity Tree at Greenbrook Elementary School in Danville, Calif., cites Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” On my recommendation, in June 1999, after the tragic events at Columbine, my daughter’s fifth-grade class planted the tree during their DARE graduation.
I was a member of the San Ramon Valley Advisory Committee on Youth Safety & Development whose catalyst for forming had been a severe beating after a high school football game. Our community was thankful we had a mechanism in place to help prevent a Columbine tragedy. The committee consisted of representatives from the PTAs, school district, law enforcement, city councils, school boards, and our county commissioner.
With their support, I founded “Parenting 2000 & Beyond” and coordinated three annual parent-education conferences to promote awareness of issues facing youth. School resource officers were put in place, parent education tapes went home to elementary and middle school parents, and anti-bullying and special needs workshops were held. Much of our work continues today. These types of programs exist in many communities throughout America.
Why then, did the Dec. 14 shootings occur in Newtown? Do we need more gun control, school metal detectors and mental health professionals and perhaps armed teachers?
Non-political and intellectually honest discussions among stakeholders must begin. That is the least we can do for the innocent lives that were brutally cut short in Newtown, and for those who loved them so dearly.