WHIM (What Inspires Me) is a weekly post by Cathy Gardner, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. Each week Cathy will discuss current events, important news stories and all things related to Jewish Federations and the Dayton Jewish community.
Grassroot Efforts Promote Change
Last night, I attended a screening of the movie Newtown. The award-winning documentary tells the story of the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and its aftermath. The director and producer, Kim A. Snyder, joined us for a panel discussion after the screening.
The event came together as part of a grassroots effort by several very concerned mothers in our Jewish community who were tired of talking about the problem of gun violence in our schools ~ they were ready to take action. The evening would not have been possible without the passion and leadership of Angela Frydman. In addition to Angela, Tara Feiner, Jean Berry, Molly Cobb, and several community members from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church helped make the event a success.
Our country has seen 288 school shootings since 2009*. For perspective, Canada has had two. France has had two. Germany has had one. Italy, Japan and the UK have had zero. That means the U.S. has had 57 times the number of school shootings in the past nine years than the other six countries in the G7 combined.
When the panel – which was comprised of local teachers, principals, school board members and a student – discussed their thoughts on why our country has seen such a staggering number of school shootings, their answers varied. Some felt it was a mental health issue. Others felt it was a gun legislation issue. One person expressed her thought that since we are a relatively “new” country, our culture has been shaped by our not so distant history of relying on guns to protect our families and property.
While people have varying thoughts on the origin of the issue, one thing was clear. The panel shared a passion and desire to work together to make positive changes and put an end to the violence. The focus was on protecting our children.
We have seen some positive changes happening already throughout the country. Parents and community members have been working to make legislative changes. Families who have lost loved ones to these tragic shootings put forth incredible energy to honor their loved ones and make sure no other family is forced to experience the intense and unimaginable suffering these school shootings have caused. People are calling for research to help untangle the complex web of reasons why these shootings keep happening.
Not only are adults determined to put an end to the violence, but our youth is as well. They are stepping forward and demanding change. But as the student who spoke last night said ~ when it comes to students being involved, there are never enough.
We have reached a critical time in our country where we can no longer sit back and let others deal with the problem. We must all work together to help end the violence. I am hopeful that change will come.
*Data courtesy of cnn.com. The parameters CNN followed in this count are:
- Shooting must involve at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
- Shooting must occur on school grounds
- We included gang violence, fights and domestic violence (but our count is NOT limited to those categories)
- We included grades Kindergarten through college/university level as well as vocational schools
- We included accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met