We Protect Our Students - but we can do better
I just finished watching the Netflix show titled 13 Reasons Why. It is about a high school girl that commits suicide and her life in high school during the two years prior to killing herself. It made me think of all of the efforts and policies and hours spent on keeping students safe in our schools. We practice fire drills and code-red drills; we encourage students to talk with an adult when they see something or hear something dangerous; and we all make an effort to have good, healthy relationships with as many students as we can.
Still, despite these efforts we are constantly faced with the reality of high school students riding into their first attempts of adult life without training wheels. Adults can be warm and friendly and approachable, but they are still adults. It is too easy for teenagers to view the adults in their life as completely unable to understand the issues that they face. We can do better.
In 2014, 1668 teenagers (13 to 18 years old) killed themselves--about 7 out of every 100,000. We can do better. Recognizing the warning signs for committing suicide can help to prevent a person from going through with it. Friends matters; words matters. One person's suicide effects many people around them. And it can always be prevented when we work together to identify potential victims and take action.
School is a great place for most of our students. Friends, sports, clubs, etc. It can be a place of solace for students who come from a difficult home life. But it can also be a terrible place of name-calling, and social-media-humiliation, and bullying. We want everyone to feel welcome and safe in our schools. Most students and parents would agree that our schools are safe places. But we can do better.
We have to work together; we have to be a society that looks out for each other. See something, say something. In the same way that police need the assistance of the public to solve crimes, schools need the eyes and ears of every student. We want to help; we want you to feel welcome and wanted and special. We want everyone to feel that their school is a place where they belong.
Help us. Do your part. We can do better.