Teachers before guns

The Mayans predicted that a new age of enlightenment would dawn on mankind in 2013 — but nobody told them about the NRA

The Mayans predicted that a new age of enlightenment would dawn on mankind in 2013 — but nobody told them about the NRA.

Following the heart-wrenchingly horrific killing spree at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 that claimed 27 lives, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association recommended that armed officers be stationed in all schools.

The organization said nothing about increasing funding to treat mental illness. It said nothing about more support for suicide prevention (most crazed gunmen plan to “go out with a bang”) or easy and free access to psychiatrists and counselling.

It said nothing about ways to help stop this disease of the mind that is infecting its populace. Most sane people don’t kill each other, but, then again, sane people don’t need a semi-automatic rifle to go deer hunting, either.

The NRA doesn’t aim to solve the problem, it wants to feed it.

Instead of arming their schools with bullets, guns and, due to school budgets being continually slashed, volunteer guards, the NRA should be calling for money to be returned to schools in the form of teachers’ wages, textbooks, counsellors and teacher aides.

Trained teachers are often the first ones to identify the early onset of learning difficulties and emotional problems with children. With the proper backing and resources, teachers can make sure our children receive the help they need, whether that’s something as simple as a pair of glasses to read the blackboard or counselling to deal with a difficult, or even abusive, situation at home.

When I was growing up in Scotland, public schools were full of children from vastly different economic backgrounds. And while the school focused on education, it also made sure that every child received fresh milk in the morning, a hot meal at lunch and a school uniform so that every child started out on the same base. Mental health issues weren’t dealt with on quite the same level. When I started first grade, my teacher told my parents that I would need to be transferred to the “special school” as I wrote all my words backwards. (Dyslexia wasn’t something that people had heard of at the time.) However, since I was ahead of the “regular” children in other areas, such as reading and math, it was eventually decided that I could stay.

My teacher worked with me to train my mind to switch the letters to their more widely-accepted order. But too often today, limited resources means that students with problems get shuffled off to the side and forgotten, which leads to adults with even more problems.

To truly protect our children, we need to put money back into the two most important areas of their development: schools and health care. M

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