After the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the national debate has turned once again to new laws and gun bans. What I think is needed here is a broader look at what I call our "help care system."
Churches and/or faith-based institutions, in-home and community service providers, schools and law enforcement all comprise this help care system. Because of confidentiality rules, privacy, agency regulations, our systems and its helpers historically don't actually communicate outside their respective systems. I don't believe this latest tragedy will change that line of thinking.
I saw it firsthand as a juvenile and family treatment specialist. Dangerous kids and mentally vulnerable youth were put back on the streets because of funding limitations. Needless to say, these were the identified ones! Supervision would then fall to the county case managers or a probation officer, who was already struggling with expanding caseloads and duties. Offenders would fall through the cracks and communities were again at risk.
For more than a decade, social service programs have had their budgets slashed. Churches and other local community organizations operate with limited resources and funds. With this trend, how are the people who need the most assistance ever going to get it. On the other hand, funding for security programs, officers, technology et al. has seen consistent increases.
As heartbreaking and spirit-crushing as each of the events is, we usually wind up with the same haunting questions: How and why did this happen? Rather that put resources into prevention, we fall into the same trap by proclaiming "We will do everything to make sure it doesn't happen again!" How can we prevent a sibling from killing his parent as they sleep?
The sad reality is that we can't stop all dangers, whether it be terrorism or the lone random violent act. When tragedies happen, we do the all the right things, working together, sharing information and providing care and support to victims and their families and the utilization of our faith-based systems.
Surely security scanning, and screening and armed personnel have their place. But good old-fashioned caring and sharing of information can prove to be a valuable method. I believe we can and must reach our lost through our help care system. There is no doubt who is responsible for acts of violence. The fact is, we are responsible for everything else.