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Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook Shooting

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my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those impacted by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

today is my last post on this issue.  where do we go from here?

this past week much of America and the world has been in shock over the terrible shootings that occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school.  those of us in the northeast have been especially torn apart. many of us have friends and family who live in newtown or attended the school.  we are tormented by the idea of trying to rise above what happened and it feels unthinkable to enjoy the holidays.

let us not forget that many of us in the northeast were also torn apart by super storm sandy.   storm sandy destroyed many homes, businesses and natural treasures in our neighborhoods.  we are still digging ourselves out of the mess that she left behind.  homes in new jersey, new york and perhaps even those in newtown still show the signs of how hard sandy hit our shores.

the two sandy’s were unexpected, unimaginable  and are still haunting our memories.   we are doing our best to figure out how we will go on…

and still we must.  come together, lean on each other and find uplifting messages to keep us going.  

that’s what happened to me last week when i was on vacation.  in a beautiful island with amazing beaches and crystal clear water there was a couple that seemed to be magically in love. they had a smile on their faces each day, a glistening in their eyes, lots of laughter and taking full advantage of all sights and fun.  i couldn’t help but ask if they were celebrating an anniversary or on their honeymoon. their response has stayed with me, especially given all that has happened this past week.

you see this couple decided to leave new york for a while after their home was destroyed by super storm sandy. they had almost nothing left of the place they lived with so many memories.  instead of staying in a state of misery, they decided to celebrate what they had.  they packed their bags and took a trip to find inspiration and renewal.   there weren’t trying to escape their problems. in fact they told me that each day they were on the phone with fema and contractors trying to get stuff done.  but in between the phone calls and waiting they decided to make the most of life, find peace and joy.

sandy holiday 12-12

this holiday season both sandy’s have left many people feeling sad, angry and pessimistic about life and our world.  let my vacationing couple be a guide to us all. don’t let the darkness draw you in.  find something that you can hold onto that will give you happiness while you try to get through the challenge.   we all can’t get away on a fancy trip but all it takes is a small step. yesterday while everyone was responding in disbelief to the NRA press conference.  i baked cookies while listening to holiday music.  it was such a joy.  find that small (or BIG) something that will inspire you to happiness.

we must refuse to let those sandy girls win.


my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those impacted by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

today, i’m shifting gears to talk about solutions

the past week, there has been so much discussion about gun control.  i am not a fan of the NRA, i am not a fan of guns and i believe in gun control. however, i will say that a gun by itself can’t shoot anyone.  let’s not forget to focus on the people committing these violent acts.

which brings me to another point that has gotten tons of discussion; mental illness.  it is true that many of the mass shootings we have seen have been carried out by people with mental illness.  i was saddened when i read the commentary from a mom who struggles to get assistance to deal with his violent behavior and mental illness

mental illness is an issue but it’s not okay for us to stigmatize those with mental illness as the only perpetrators of horrific acts of violence.  in fact most people with mental illness are not violent at all.   the real issue is MENTAL HEALTH.

mental illness, mental health it’s all the same you say.  not so…

mental illness is a psychological disorder that is caused by physical brain imbalances.   it is limited to a small percentage of people.   Poor mental health covers a more broad spectrum of issues that may lead individuals to commit violence.  Poor mental health causes anger, depression and lack of empathy or feeling for other human beings. Poor mental health is the inability to control one’s emotions, the acting out, bullying and social isolation. the child who has experienced years of abuse, the kid who watches a parent drink and lash out on a daily basis is at risk for mental health issues.  

when we make the discussion about mental illness it moves things to the extreme, when in fact the issue is so much more common place than we have been willing to admit.   our lack of focus on mental health has left many children and adults in a state of rage.  they take it out on their classmates, they commit acts of domestic violence, they join gangs and reek havoc on communities.

the solution is for our society to become much more focused on the idea of good mental health as an important part of our overall health.  what that would mean is a move from looking at mental health as a problem that only requires medication and locking folks away. it’s acknowledging that good mental health is a human right which everyone of us should strive to obtain.    

good mental health is when you have balance in your emotional states; most of the time you are calm, happy and feeling great.  good mental health is when you are socially aware; you know how to engage with people in a positive way and enjoy having human contact.  good mental health is when psychologically you are strong; you feel good about yourself and think positively about life.   good mental health is something we should teach in schools, we should promote among parents and support as part of our health care system.

it’s time that mental health stopped being a bad word.  

it’s the mind, body, spirit equation we need to be fully healthy human beings.

mental health 12-20-12

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my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  

child trauma 12-19-12today’s blog is focused on helping children deal with the trauma of witnessing violent events

i wish i didn’t have the experience to share about this particular topic. but unfortunately i do.  on a bright and beautiful september day in 2001 i was living in new york city and on my way to work. i was walking down 34th street by the empire state building when the twin towers were attacked.  i watched smoke envelop the sky and saw people running in panic.  i then put on the radio and heard the news. next i ran to work.  when i got there i saw the horror on tv.  we were all made to stay put until it was perceived safe enough for us to walk home.  the next few months were a blur.

you see i worked at the nyu child study center which is one of the leading medical facilities in the world focused on child development and child mental health.   we were getting hundreds of calls a day from schools and organizations who needed help working with children who had witnessed that unimaginable violent attack.  from that work, we developed a tool kit for parents, teachers and schools on how to help your child deal with traumatic violent attacks and crisis

most people don’t realize that being a victim of the a violent attack is not the only way to experience trauma.  one can also just witness the attack (even on tv) and be impacted.  this is especially true for children.   child trauma is something that many adults ignore. they figure the child is too young to realize what happened. but research shows that even infants are able to absorb the trauma but are unable to verbally express what they are feeling.   child traumatic stress is when a child’s reactions interfere with daily life.  so it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your child’s mood, behavior and physical symptoms. then get help from a trained professional (clergy, counselor, psychologist).

the following are resources to help your child deal with witnessing the sandy hook tragedy or other violent events:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Resources related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Tips from the American Psychological Association on how to help your child deal with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

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