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Fitzpatrick Named “Defender of Children”

Fitzpatrick Named “Defender of Children”

C&KT Endorsed Congressman Recognized for Protecting Our Children
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) has been named a “Defender of Children” by the First Focus Campaign for Children for actively working to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy.
“There are few honors more humbling than being named a ‘Defender of Children.’ As public servants, we have no higher responsibility than to protect our children and to ensure that every child has a strong foundation for success,”said Fitzpatrick.“Each one of our kids deserves the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe environment. As federal legislators, we owe a duty to support federal policies that keep this goal in mind.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children recognized Fitzpatrick and several Members of Congress for their votes on key health-related bills, like Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act, and amendments to tax legislation. Additional criteria included bill introductions and co-sponsorships, and other actions where lawmakers have supported children in an array of issue areas.
“Even though child advocates had to defend a whole range of legislative and regulatory attacks on children, we have identified 120 Members of Congress that chose to make children a priority. We commend their leadership and hope they will inspire their colleagues to do the same,”said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
View the full legislative scorecard from the Campaign for Children HERE.
Children in the United States face numerous hardships, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, education inequity, poor nutrition, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separation in mixed immigrant households that demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that make children a priority.

Other school safety bills to watch.

Latest Major Action Congress Bill Number Bill Title
Nov. 28, 2018 115 H.R.7185 To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish a weekend and holiday feeding program to provide nutritious food to at-risk school children on weekends and during extended school holidays throughout the year.
Nov. 15, 2018 115 H.R.7056 To authorize the Attorney General to make grants to States to acquire a mobile application that facilitates the reporting of school safety threats to local law enforcement agencies for use by students in secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sept. 28, 2018 115 S.RES.662 A resolution designating September 2018 as “Campus Fire Safety Month”.
Sept. 26, 2018 115 S.3506 A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to strengthen school security.
Sept. 13, 2018 115 H.R.6773 To direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue rules requiring the inclusion of new safety equipment in school buses, and for other purposes.
Sept. 13, 2018 115 H.R.6798 To require the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences to make available to elementary and secondary school officials research for improving school safety, and for other purposes.
Sept. 12, 2018 115 S.3432 A bill to direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue rules requiring the inclusion of new safety equipment in school buses, and for other purposes.
Sept. 6, 2018 115 H.R.6713 To promote the creation of State anonymous school threat reporting programs, and for other purposes.
Sept. 6, 2018 115 S.RES.603 A resolution designating September 2018 as “School Bus Safety Month”.
5 reasons metal detectors in schools won’t work

5 reasons metal detectors in schools won’t work

Some schools with chronic violence and weapon violations have installed metal detectors at their entrances, screening students for contraband as they arrive.

One big fan of this approach is Dick Morris, former adviser to President Bill Clinton.  According to Morris: “The City of Philadelphia has installed metal detectors in all of its public high schools and has completely eliminated the problem of school shootings. Metal detectors are an absolute answer — cheap, effective and immediate.”

“An absolute answer.”?!  Dick Morris is an idiot. 

In this report from Massive.com, Ken Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, believes metal detectors are an unsustainable, knee-jerk political reaction.

Trump has been a school safety consultant for 30 years and Congress has invited him to testify on the topic four times since 1999.

 

Here’s some reason why metal detectors are security theater. 

The best practices are not manageable

“There’s a great deal of pressure put on schools … to create some visible, tangible signs of security, and oftentimes that equates to some form of equipment,” said Trump. “One gun is one too many (but) the devil is in the details of implementation.”

In order to do the job, a metal detector would have to be coupled with other measures that simply are not realistic. First and foremost, they must be in use around the clock, 365 days a year, to prevent someone from stashing a weapon, Trump said. All ground-floor windows need to remain permanently shut so no one can pass anything into the building. No one can prop open a door, even temporarily, and every entrance and exit would need to be manned.

Some of these measures could violate local ordinances and fire codes. And everyone, young and old, student and staff, parent and visitor, would need to be screened every time they enter, no matter the purpose.

If you want to go see a play, report for athletic practice or games, use the gym outside school hours, or attend a public meeting, you’d have to go through the metal detector. Even just dropping off your child’s lunch or going to a parent-teacher conference would require the same.

Otherwise, why bother installing it in the first place?

The cost is not necessarily worth it

What if it breaks? Can the school district or the city afford to fix it?

The one-time installation cost can buy a sense of security “instead of investing in more longer-term strategies that are focused on people,” Trump said.

Metal detectors create a false sense of security

In 2013, a 14-year-old in Atlanta was shot in the neck inside a school that used them. Administrators admitted the machines were “not operable” that day.

A Minnesota school with a metal detector, guards and fencing was the site of a mass shooting in 2005 that left seven people dead. The gunman killed an unarmed security guard manning the detector, and the other guard fled for his life.

Cavaan said Springfield’s metal detectors are not always manned by police officers. A security guard or a staff member familiar with the equipment and the procedure may conduct the checks, as well.

She hesitated to say that the school staff member would be “trained,” but “they do go through some kind of proper familiarization process.” Each school’s security team coordinates with the district’s central office to ensure the work is done properly, and administrators are expected to report problems with the metal detectors that may lead to vulnerabilities.

Trump said metal detectors can be useful in large urban districts like Los Angeles and New York City. Keep in mind, though, that the size and location of a school has nothing to do with the students’ ability to get their hands on weapons, he said. Gangs and drug dealers are not the only ones with guns; everyday law-abiding citizens have them, as well, and it’s not impossible for a child of any age to throw one in his backpack or stash it in his locker.

There are better ways to find out about a gun in a school

Trump said the best way to find out about a weapon in school is to build relationships with students and make them feel comfortable reporting it to a trusted adult.

Many of the best security measures are invisible, he said. They include training staff on lockdown procedures and providing access to mental health care and guidance counselors: “The first and best line of defense is a highly alert and well-trained staff and student body.”

Cavaan, the Springfield spokesperson, said metal detectors are just one element in a broad strategy.

“They are one of several tools we use to help ensure student and staff safety. We don’t rely solely on metal detectors, but they are an important part of our security, particularly at the high school level,” she said. “The metal detectors have done their job in terms of alerting staff to items that maybe shouldn’t be brought into the school.”

Every school in Springfield has a buzzer system for visitors, and all are expected to sign in at the front office, said Cavaan. Staff, when possible, will escort the visitor to his or her destination. The Quebec Unit, the city’s version of school resource officers, also circulates between schools to keep an eye on things, and cameras monitor every common area.

“It’s a multi-pronged approach to student and staff safety,” she said, adding that the district is always looking at security developments and trends around the region. “It’s the only thing that’s more important than teaching.”

Random spot checks, likely with a metal detecting wand, would make a little more sense than a stationary unit, said Trump, but it still would be “a Band-Aid approach.” Students could be screened without notice on the bus, in their classrooms or during after-school activities, creating a greater sense of risk for those who might want to carry a weapon.

Last year, the National Center for Education Statistics released data from the 2011-2012 school year, showing 2.7 percent of public schools required students to pass through a metal detector every day. Spot checks were slightly more prevalent at 5 percent.

Anyone planning school security measures should remember that students are not the only potential threats, he said. A parent, a staff member or someone with no connection to the school could stroll in with a gun, and a reaction plan must be in place.

A student is more likely to be bullied than shot

At every school, no matter the size or place, staff should have two-way radios to quickly initiate a lockdown and stay in contact during an emergency, according to Trump. They should be visible in lunchrooms, regularly check restrooms, test their crisis response plans, monitor social media for threats, and remember that guns are not the only danger in school.

Much more likely is a bullying problem, a stranger on the campus or a non-custodial parent attempting to pick up a child. Each of these needs unique protocols.

Building a sense of trust and credibility with the community is crucial, Trump said. When a school hires a resource officer, parents need to know about it and be aware of the officer’s role. They should be notified of changes, additions and subtractions made to any plan. That way, if there is a crisis, parents will feel more confident their children are safe and know where to direct any concerns.

The bottom line

While Trump argues against installing metal detectors at all, Cavaan believes they’re useful as part of a much bigger plan. The district can afford to buy and maintain them, and they have paid off by, at least periodically, keeping dangerous contraband out. Many of Trump’s suggestions are in place at Springfield public schools.

Trump’s advice boils down to this: “Invest in your people, not products.” His organization has conducted focus groups and surveyed interested parties for years to develop its suggested methods, and a common takeaway is that students can find a way to bypass a metal detector.

“Most people will tell you, ‘If somebody really wanted to get a weapon in here, they could,'” he said. And if a gun or a knife slips through, the school needs a whole system of contingencies and trained personnel in place, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

Tell Congress: Pass the STOP School Violence Act

Tell Congress: Pass the STOP School Violence Act

The STOP School Violence Act would create a grant program to train students, teachers, school officials, and local law enforcement how to identify and intervene early when signs of violence arise, create a coordinated reporting system, and implement FBI & Secret Service-based school threat assessment protocols to prevent school shootings before they happen.

This bill, which was introduced on January 30 and now has more than 25 bipartisan cosponsors, would boost school efforts to develop violence prevention programs and coordinate with law enforcement to improve school.

What the bill does

The Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Actwould appropriate $50 million per year for:

  • Schools to develop “threat assessment systems” in line with recommendations from the FBI and Secret Services, in hopes of stopping such would-be killers before they commit acts of violence.
  • Anonymous reporting systems to be implemented for use by students, teachers, or others to contact law enforcement about potential threats.
  • Improving school security through the use of technologies and increased personnel.
  • None of the money in the bill would be used to arm teachers, the most controversial gun-related provision proposed in the wake of the shooting, one endorsed by President Trump.

The House bill was introduced by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL4) in late January, about two weeks before the Parkland high school shooting in Rutherford’s home state. It did not take place in his home district, located in northeastern Florida bordering Georgia, hundreds of miles from the southern part of the state where the massacre occurred.

The legislation is numbered H.R. 4909 in the House and S. 2495 in the Senate.

Above: Congressman Rutherford announces bill at news conference.

“As a career police officer and sheriff for 12 years in my hometown of Jacksonville, I know first-hand the importance of communities working together with their law enforcement agencies to keep people safe. This bill invests in early intervention and prevention programs in our local schools, so that our communities and law enforcement can be partners in preventing violent events from happening. We need to give students, teachers, and law enforcement the tools and training they need to identify warning signs and to know who to contact when they see something that is not right.”

Congressman John Rutherford in announcing bipartisan STOP School Violence Act

 

 

How States Are Addressing School Safety

How States Are Addressing School Safety

Against the backdrop of the killing of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., state legislatures across the country are considering K-12 school safety measures.

NCSL has compiled a snapshot of state legislation addressing school safety as of early April 2018.

Two hundred bills or resolutions addressing school safety have been introduced in 39 different states. Half of those bills were introduced—in 27 states—since the events in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018.

State legislatures have proposed a variety of approaches to improve school safety measures, including:

  • Arming school personnel (44 bills in 20 states).
  • Developing emergency response plans (35 bills in 19 states).
  • Requiring emergency drills (25 bills in 16 states).
  • Addressing school resource officers (SROs) regulations and training (34 bills in 19 states).
  • Strengthening building security (32 bills in 17 states).
  • Increasing access to mental health services (28 bills in 18 states).

Nearly half of these proposals cover the possession of firearms in K-12 schools.

Among the more than 100 bills or resolutions proposed since the Parkland tragedy, 37 of them—in 17 states—address the possession of firearms in K-12 schools. Eleven states have proposed expanding concealed carry rights in K-12 schools.

One of these bills, Florida Senate Bill 7026, has become law. Meanwhile, five bills—in four states—propose restricting concealed carry rights in K-12 schools. None of these has become law.

Eleven state legislatures have proposed arming, or exploring options for arming, K-12 school personnel. (The NCSL Blog post, “Carrying Firearms in K-12 Schools: A Policy Snapshot,” provides an overview of current state statutes regarding the possession of firearms at K12 schools.)

Although most states already require school districts to develop emergency response plans or to conduct emergency drills, 12 states have 23 proposals—introduced after the events in Parkland—mandating or augmenting existing emergency plan procedures.

Meanwhile, eight states have 15 proposals requiring regularly conducted emergency drills. Some of the proposed legislation encourages or requires collaboration between state agencies and local law enforcement. Iowa Senate Bill 2364, which requires schools and districts to consult with local emergency management coordinators and local law enforcement agencies in the development of the plan, and Maryland Senate Bill 1265, which requires local law enforcement agency to participate in the school’s active threat drill.

Following the events in Parkland, 12 states introduced bills addressing school resource officer training and hiring requirements, as well as policies similar to Georgia Senate Bill 470, mandating the presence of a school resource officer at K-12 schools.

Thirteen states have proposals like Minnesota Senate Bill 3471 to strengthen school building security through infrastructural improvements, including, but not limited to, metal-detectors, alarm systems and reinforced doors.

Eighteen states are considering proposals to increase access to mental health services to address school safety concerns. These proposals would require the presence of a mental health professional in K-12 schools, provide mental health training for teachers and counselors, collaborate with local mental health professionals and/or implement a mental health awareness curriculum.

For more information on School Safety legislation, visit NCSL’s School Safety webpage that includes updated legislative tracking, an overview of state statutes and resources on state school safety laws.

Benjamin Erwin is an intern in NCSL’s education program.

From http://www.ncsl.org/blog/2018/04/05/how-states-are-addressing-school-safety.aspx

There has been, on average, 1 school shooting every week this year

There has been, on average, 1 school shooting every week this year

School shootings so far in 2018

We’re 21 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 23 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than 1 shooting a week.

The parameters of the list are as follows:

  • A shooting that involved at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
  • A shooting that occurred on school grounds
  • We included grades K through college/university level
  • We included gang violence, fights and domestic violence
  • We included accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met

May 25: Noblesville, Indiana

Two people were injured when a gunman opened fire at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana.

May 18: Santa Fe, Texas

Ten people were killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School.

May 11: Palmdale, California

A 14-year-old boy went to Highland High, his former school, and began shooting a semiautomatic rifle shortly before classes were scheduled to begin, officials said. A 15-year-old boy was struck in the shoulder.

April 20: Ocala, Florida

A 17-year-old student at Forest High School was shot in the ankle shortly before students were to walk out as part of a national protest against gun violence.. The suspect was a 19-year-old former student.

April 12: Raytown, Missouri

A man was shot in the stomach in the parking lot of Raytown South Middle School during a track meet.

April 9: Gloversville, New York

A student shot another student with a BB gun in Gloversville Middle School.

March 20: Lexington Park, Maryland

An armed student shot two others at Great Mills High School before a school resource officer fired a round at the shooter. The shooter was killed. One of the students, 16-year-old girl Jaelynn Willey, was taken off life support two days later.

March 13: Seaside, California

A teacher accidentally discharged a gun during a public safety class at Seaside High School, injuring a student.

March 8: Mobile, Alabama

One person was hospitalized after a shooting at an apartment building on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

March 7: Birmingham, Alabama

One student was killed and another critically wounded after an accidental shooting during dismissal time at Huffman High School. Police wouldn’t elaborate further.

March 7: Jackson, Mississippi

A student was shot inside a dormitory at Jackson State University. His injuries were not life-threatening.

March 2: Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Two people were shot to death at a dormitory on the campus of Central Michigan University. The victims were not students and police think the incident stemmed from a domestic situation.

February 27: Norfolk, Virginia

A student at Norfolk State University was shot from an adjacent dorm room while he was doing homework. He was not seriously injured.

February 27: Itta Bena, Mississippi

A person was shot in a rec center at Mississippi Valley State University. Police said the person was not a student and the injury was not life-threatening.

February 24: Savannah, Georgia

A person was shot on the campus of Savannah State University and taken to a nearby hospital where he later died. Neither the victim nor the shooter were university students, the college said.

February 14: Parkland, Florida

A 19-year-old man gunned down students and staff with a rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, slaughtering at least 17 unsuspecting students and adults. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from the high school over disciplinary problems, officials said.

February 9: Nashville

A high school student was shot five times in the parking lot of Pearl-Cohn High School.February 5: Oxon Hill, Maryland

A high school student was shot in the parking lot of Oxon Hill High. The victim was treated and later released. Police arrested two teens and said they are acquaintances of the victim.

February 1: Los Angeles

A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head and a 15-year-old girl shot in the wrist at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, officials said. Two other students were grazed by bullets. A 12-year-old girl was booked for negligent discharge of a firearm in that shooting, which was considered “unintentional,” Los Angeles police said.

January 31: Philadelphia

A fight led to a shooting in the parking lot of Lincoln High School, fatally wounding a 32-year-old man.

January 23: Benton, Kentucky

A 15-year-old student shot 16 people — killing two other 15-year-olds — at Marshall County High School, authorities said. The student faces two charges of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault.

January 22: Italy, Texas

A 15-year-old student was wounded in a shooting at a high school in Italy, Texas, authorities said. The suspect, also 15, was quickly apprehended.

January 20: Winston Salem, North Carolina

A Winston-Salem State University football player, Najee Ali Baker, was shot to death at a party on the campus of Wake Forest University.

Schools Should Hire More Retired Police Officers

Schools Should Hire More Retired Police Officers

Schools should hire retired police officers to provide armed security in schools across the nation. Last week legislation was introduced to do just that.

Hire Our Heroes to Protect Our Schools Act of 2018 reauthorizes the COPS Secure Our Schools grant program to provide states, localities, and tribal governments with the resources they need to hire retired officers, and take other common sense steps to prevent violence in our schools.

Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) proposed H.R. 5139 arguing “placing highly trained and professional individuals in our schools is one of the easiest methods to bolster school security. And no one is better trained and better equipped to handle a potential school shooting situation than our nation’s men and women in law enforcement, and the same holds true for retired officers.”

Hiring retired police officers to provide school security is a common sense step to better secure and prepare our schools, and it could be achieved almost immediately. Most importantly, doing so could go a long way towards protecting our students who are in school to learn, not become victims of hate.

Initially, the idea of hiring retired police officers in schools was brought to Chabot’s attention by Cincinnati FOP President Dan Hils.

“Our nation’s schools have become soft targets for any would-be killer with a gun,” said Hils. “Across the country, there are more than enough retired police officers to provide the necessary security, as many police officers retire from the force in their early fifties, but continue to work in other fields for another 15 years or so. Many of these retired officers would prefer to continue serving their communities, and would jump at the chance to provide security for our schools.”

In addition to hiring retired police officers, the federal funding reauthorized by Chabot’s legislation can be used for a number of school safety measures, including:

  • the hiring of school resource officers;
  • preparing school faculty and staff for active shooter situations;
  • the installation of metal detectors and other technology upgrades to help prevent shootings and more efficiently notify local law enforcement of an active shooter;
  • and efforts to address mental illness in our school systems by providing training assistance to counselors, teachers, and staff so they are better equipped to identify and ensure the health and wellbeing of all students.

We urge you to support H.R. 5139 and its sponsor Congressman Steve Chabot.

How Trauma Is Killing Us: Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)

 

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” ~ Richard Rohr

Another tragic mass shooting resulted in the deaths of ten people at Santa Fe High School near Houston on Friday May 19, 2018. There have been 22 school shootings so far this year where someone was injured or died.

It is hard to comprehend.  There has been more than one shooting each week. What is going on? Our children are killing each other in a very public forum at the places where nurturing, learning and growing into good citizens should be happening for them all.

Instead, the threat and fear of death and violence is following them into every classroom.  Why do we adults seem powerless to put measures into effect that would change the situation immediately? We seem to be passively accepting that this is the new normal…that nobody is safe anywhere.  Of course, this is not true. My sense is that we are overwhelmed and don’t understand that unimaginable pain, mental illness and trauma are culprits behind all the violence.

I have learned a lot about (and from) kids through my professional involvement over the past four decades. Even though I would love to pour all of my experiences and wisdom shared by mentors and the kids themselves regarding childhood trauma into these pages, there would never be enough room.  So allow me to synthesize some of what I know about violent children and relate it to school shootings.

  1. Childhood trauma is an underpinning of the rage which creates horrific violence.
  2. Traumatized kids cannot imagine a future without more pain. Usually they lead lives filled with current conditions of chaos and unpredictability leaving them continually re-damaged.
  3. Aggressive behavior is the last survival behavior a kid uses. He has already tried to find relief in every other way.
  4. No hopeful kid ever picked up guns or explosives, took them to school, and started a killing spree. Only hopelessness can create it.
  5. No kid ever thought that killing his classmates and teachers would bring him attention and fame. He just wanted to die.

“The status quo is only interested in incessant judging, comparisons, measuring, scapegoating and competition.” ~ Gregory Boyle

In each case, experts have lined up to offer all kinds of solutions.  Mostly they involve gun control of one kind or another on one side and the arming/hardening of schools on the other.  We seem to be stuck in debates which lead to very little action.  Unfortunately, almost all of the proposals are reactive.  Rather than putting our efforts into primary prevention, we seem bent on expending massive resources fighting a losing battle against the NRA or by turning schools into impenetrable fortresses.  I wrote a column several weeks ago about the folly of these tertiary interventions as they apply to our addiction epidemic.  The same applies when it comes to this problem.

Since childhood trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), seem to have a causal relationship to violence and school shootings, I believe that we can develop screening and assessment protocols to identify at-risk people and circumstances.  We will then be able change our modus operandi from blaming, shaming and punishing people to understanding, encouraging and healing them.

Graphic from Center for Child Counseling.

What are ACEs?

ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences.  These are events which occur before age 18 (most damaging are those which happen prior to age 6) and are beyond a young person’s control.  A lifetime of hardship and adversity can follow which could be passed on from generation to generation.

The principal types of ACEs are:

  • Emotional, physical of sexual abuse
  • Emotional and physical neglect
  • Living in seriously troubled households (homes that have domestic violence, or mental and/or substance (alcohol or drug) disorders, or parental separation or divorce, or a family member who is incarcerated.

As the number of ACEs a youth experiences increase, so too does the risk for these health and mental health problems – often before they depart their teen years. The greater the number of ACEs a youth experiences, the greater is the likelihood of multiple problems. ACEs science clearly shows that childhood trauma results in adolescent and adult onset of chronic physical and mental illness, violence, and being a victim of violence.

ACEs and the Extreme State

Most of us have been exposed to at least one ACE in our lives.  But very few of us can relate to the impact of real life, hard core trauma experiences which cause the ‘survival brain’ to take control of our behavior. Children who have suffered cigarette burns at the hands of parents or those who are abused sexually every night endure torture which most of us cannot imagine.   These events or series of events have been referred to as the extreme state by Dr. Corinne Gerwe.

Sigmund Freud theorized survival as a predominant driving factor in human behavior.  When trauma is experienced it is followed by an intense feeling such as fear or anger.  Physical symptoms follow like a racing heart or nausea.  The survival brain goes into high gear, virtually closing down the ‘learning brain’ sensing an emergency situation.  The behavior(s) which are enacted and relieve the intensity of the feeling are logged in the memory and become intrinsically linked to emotional survival.  They will be continually reactivated by their inter-related feeling/physical symptom states whenever the intense feeling shows up.  They can develop into persistent and often obsessive patterns that are not grounded in rational thinking or intention.  They can be described as behaviors that a person will swear never to do again and yet repeat despite attempts to resist.  These behaviors can be difficult to explain and even a mystery to the person enacting them as noted by Gerald M. Edelman in his 2003 study of neuronal consciousness.

Understanding ACEs and the extreme state should allow us to stop wasting time looking for scapegoats, endlessly searching for motives, slapping the dismissive labels of evil, loser, or bad guy on a person who has inflicted terrible damage.  It will enable our communities to own their part in violence when little has been done to prevent it.  Healing only occurs when we recognize the true nature of a problem, understand its’ defeating nature, and apply steps to change the way we deal with it.  Prevention is the only long term solution.

“Denial is perfectly beneficial until it’s not anymore.  Then we need to find a safe place to peel back the layers of our own pain.” ~ Gregory Boyle

Primary Prevention and Intervention Using ACEs

We have a golden opportunity to solve this most intractable school shooting problem as well as other less dramatic consequences of ACEs.  One community where systems are in place to change the dynamic is Memphis, Tennessee.  Their ACE Awareness Foundation takes a three-step approach.

  1. Universal Parenting Places (UPP sites) ~ UPP sites are judgment-free zones where parents can go for help. They can talk with counselors, explore their own ACEs and learn how to alter their behaviors in their homes. Counseling is offered at no cost to the consumer. Research has shown that being able to trust another adult and “just let it out” helps people work through their experiences and take control. For some adults with a high ACE score, finding out that there may be a scientific reason their minds and bodies react in certain ways can also be liberating.
  2. Parent Support Warm Line ~ At home, caregivers can call a free phone line (844-UPP-WARM) administered by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for guidance and support with parenting issues in real-time. It’s manned by licensed therapists who have trauma training. ACEs are more likely to occur during peak hours of parenting — late afternoon to bedtime — so the Warm Line is available for parents who need to talk through something or who just need a timeout.
  3. Community Outreach ~ Healthcare providers, organizations and civic leaders attend workshops focused on creating trauma-informed citizens. The State of Tennessee has also held statewide summits and created task forces to combat the issue, creating ACE Awareness Partners.

“We envision a Memphis where everyone knows where to get the help they need. Every adult and child should be able to take control of their own destiny.” ~ Ellen Rolfes

The more we can do to prevent ACEs, the closer we will come to ending school violence, bullying and even mass shootings.  With this in mind, I propose that every student in every school, and every parent or caretaker should complete an ACEs assessment.  Those who are deemed at risk would receive immediate referral and help.  This is a full systems change from intervention to prevention that won’t come easy. But we need to create a critical mass of people who understand ACEs, can speak that language and can take action.

The Work Has Already Begun

There are now 38 states and the District of Columbia who have done their own ACE surveys through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) since 2009.  The BRFSS is an ongoing data collection program designed to measure behavioral risk factors for the adult population (18 years of age or older) living in households.  The original Kaiser-CDC ACE Study began in 1995 and completed in 1997, but participants were followed for 20 years. New data on the more than 17,000 participants continues to be collected.

ACEs assessments and questionnaires are being used in education, healthcare, parenting programs and juvenile justice systems around the country.  A group called ACEs Connection describes themselves as “a social network that accelerates the global movement toward recognizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior and health, and reforming all communities and institutions — from schools to prisons to hospitals and churches — to help heal and develop resilience rather than to continue to traumatize already traumatized people.”  They have organized concise methods for communities to start up local ACEs Networks.

Below you will find pdf downloadable tools from my Google Drive that can be used to determine ACEs risk for adults, children and teens. Start by finding your own ACE score. Let’s join the effort to bring about some real, long lasting change.

ACEs Toolbox; Questionnaires and User Guide

ACEs User Guide

Finding Your (Adult) ACE Score

ACEs Child Questionnaire

ACEs Teen Questionnaire

ACEs Teen Self Report

Robert Kenneth Jones

Robert Kenneth Jones

Columnist

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Sharing Ideas & Resources to Keep Our Nation’s School Safe

Sharing Ideas & Resources to Keep Our Nation’s School Safe

This Guide addresses various ways to improve school security and reports on unique collaborative community efforts that are effective in both cities and rural areas.

The programs profiled describe new uses for familiar, standard-bearing technologies, such as the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) and the National Institute of Justice’s School Critical Incident Planning-Generator (SCIP-G) tool. It includes many more school security strategies resources, including new products and apps.

This publication is provided by the Justice Technology Information Center (JTIC), a program of the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

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Tribes; Losing and Rediscovering Kinship in a Time of Widening Polarization

There is a natural inclination for people with similar characteristics and like-mindedness to congregate. We are tribal beings after all.

Our tribes enabled humans to survive hostilities over the eons.  Even the challenges we face today draw us to those of similar status and values. It is in these modern day tribes that we form comfortable bonds of friendship. Our social networks, business and community groups welcome us.  We are nurtured and provided with a sense of belonging and kinship.

Over the past few years there has been a call from authors and social scientists to ‘find your tribe’ due to increasing isolation in the internet age. But there is a worrisome downside to all of this as well. In his book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, Bill Bishop provides a breakdown of how our tribes are making it far less likely for us to consider views different from our own.

He points out that when we are surrounded by people who agree with us, our views become more and more resolute and extreme. We tend to denounce those who are different and competing ideas are considered invalid. In tribal extremes, binary or dualistic thinking becomes dominant and inclusivity becomes almost impossible.

Our First Tribes; That Old Gang of Mine

We don’t get to choose our family tribe, but as children move out from home to school, and the community at large, we begin to form attachments, and friendships emerge through play. These relationships influence behavior and we become powerfully motivated to be a part of a peer group.  We form what I call a chosen tribe.

My own consisted of neighbor boys, all about seven years of age, and who lived within the confines of a city block.  Our beliefs were dualistic. We determined what was good, bad, moral, evil, acceptable and unacceptable.  Good guys wore white hats.  Americans were moral. Nazi’s and The Imperial Japanese Navy were evil. Protestants were acceptable and those with other religious beliefs unacceptable (and probably going to hell).

Our first challenge to ‘us versus them’ binary thinking came when two Roman Catholic kids were admitted to our gang.  We liked them and they were good at baseball. Our parents were okay with it even though we were not allowed to go to their church nor were we invited to ours. This ever so slight shift in the dominant view actually began to open each of us to the prospect of including others.

Despite later adolescent fear of being ostracized and rejected for ever-expanding and diversifying our choice of friends, each of the original tribe became young men who accepted and honored differences in others. And it has continued into our middle and old age. Tribes can open us or close us up.

Our Oneness and Common Bonds

So how can any of us embrace uniqueness found in tribes while recognizing, including and honoring diversity and differences? An answer can be found in spiritual and scientific oneness. For example, while finger prints may point to uniqueness, our DNA connects us to a widening family of people and places beyond our imagination.

Jesus challenges his followers through word and personal example to include the poor, the sick, the tax collector, the rich, and the despised into a great banquet feast.  He asks us to love neighbor as self. If we want to make a society work it must be expanded beyond, while not excluding, the tribes that make us feel safe and welcomed.

Finding the things that unite us and underscoring our sacred humanity is the key to kinship. But this will require an openness to do so.  Our deep divisions in politics, religion, economics (and seemingly every other facet of life) play out on television and social media every day.

“One thing we know – there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all.” ~ Chief Seattle

 I was watching an interview with Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers when I first heard the words of Chief Seattle’s 1855 letter to the U.S. President. Those interviews, called The Power of Myth, were presented on PBS.

It was inspiring to hear his wisdom and insight regarding global inclusiveness.  Not that the concept was foreign to me in 1990, but striking how polarized and dualistic we remained 135 years after the letter had been penned.

Now, another 28 years has passed and the situation has grown worse in so many ways.  However, I got a promising glimpse of our oneness when watching the funeral service of former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush on April 21, 2018. I mention her middle name because she is a cousin of President Franklin Pierce, who was the recipient of Chief Seattle’s letter.

In attendance at the funeral were the current First Lady and four former Presidents as well as dignitaries from extremes of political and philosophical persuasion.  It occurred to me that perhaps neither time nor our humanity has separated us so much after all. Campbell used to talk about how important it is to have the experience of sacred spaces. Such a sacred space was evident in Houston at the celebration of Mrs. Bush.

I could almost hear Joe Campbell reminding us that; “where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Sacred Spaces and Welcoming Places

There are ways to create these sacred spaces which I believe will connect us to the God of our understanding and widen our scope of oneness with all of creation.  We might not be like Moses who heard his name being called and found a bush which was burning but not consumed by flames in a place that was made holy.  But we can answer God in the spirit of Moses by proclaiming as he did; “Here I am.”

The personal experience of disciplined, practiced prayer and meditation is a means by which we can create a sacred space in higher consciousness for listening and connecting within.  It is a way of shutting off the binary, dualistic brain.  Richard Rohr, the Franciscan contemplative teacher says that “The lowest level of consciousness is entirely dualistic (win/lose)—me versus the world and basic survival. Many, I am afraid, never move beyond this. The higher levels of consciousness are more and more able to deal with contradictions, paradoxes, and all Mystery (win/win). This is spiritual maturity.

At the higher levels, we can teach things like compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, even love of enemies. Any good contemplative practice quickly greases the wheels of the mind toward non-dual consciousness. This is exactly why saints can overlook offenses and love enemies!” We make ourselves fully present saying, “Here I am.”

The very Tribes to which we feel drawn to for belonging, comfort and safety can be a means of re-connecting and of decreasing our dangerous climate of polarization. As members of the group we have the authority to be leaders.  First and foremost, we can help each other to stop worrying about what other people think about us. We can begin to talk about similarities of those whom we have opposed. We can collaborate with other teams at work.  We can explore positive aspects of the culture we want to see more of.  We can begin to establish associations with individuals who are different.

Expanding our tribes will not come through logical arguments or sound reasoning. It will come through a building of individual connections. It can happen just as it did for my little gang of boys so many years ago when we found out that two strange kids were ‘good at baseball’. We will always find that we are not really very different. And at long last…what a fine Tribe we might be.

Robert Kenneth Jones

Robert Kenneth Jones

Columnist

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings

BY GLENNON DOYLE MELTON

A Strategy for Addressing Violence in Our Schools from Reader’s Digest

A few weeks ago, I went into my son Chase’s class for tutoring. I’d e-mailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math—but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She e-mailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.”

And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth-grade classroom while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I’d never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but I could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.

Afterward, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are not the most important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community—and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are kind and brave above all.

And then she told me this.

Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children, I think this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold—the gold being those children who need a little help, who need adults to step in and teach them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts.

And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside her eyeshot and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But, as she said, the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea, I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine. Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. Who are our next mass shooters and how do we stop them? She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed may eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often in the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it.

And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything—even love, even belonging—has a pattern to it. She finds the patterns, and through those lists she breaks the codes of disconnection. Then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s math.

All is love—even math. Amazing.

What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day, and altering the trajectory of our world.

Glennon Doyle Melton writes the popular blog momastery.com and is the author of Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life.

FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Schoolhouse Safety Forum 2018

Schoolhouse Safety Forum 2018

Cops and Kids Together is hosting Safe School Forum 2018 this summer to educate communities nationwide about implementing police-in-school programs and legislative initiatives.

In the wake of multiple school shootings, school safety has become a national priority. Yet, charting an effective strategy to keep kids safe is not easy. We believe that the best place to find solutions to safer schools can be found with those who already have a proven track record of success.

STAY TURNED FOR AN UPDATE MAY 17th!

The Addiction Epidemic: Re-ordering Strategies for Substance Abuse Disorders from Intervention to Prevention

More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids…nearly double in a decade. An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) died from alcohol abuse in the same year. We lost 152,000 people.  This makes alcohol and drug abuse/addiction the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer took more lives.

Congress approved and the President signed a bill funding $7.4 billion for addiction in 2018.  But are we allocating our resources well? Are we addressing this health crisis in new and effective ways? It is a good and meaningful try to be sure.  The problem is that we continue to allocate much more money and effort into putting out fires as opposed to preventing them.

Chattooga River

Chattooga River

Are We Focused on the Real Problem? Insights from the Chattooga River

In my role as an addiction professional, I used to speak before groups of mental health, substance abuse and adolescent treatment providers on a fairly regular basis. One of the stories I liked to tell is that of a hiker in the Blue Ridge Mountains who had wandered onto an active emergency situation at a Class IV rapid on the Chattooga River.

There were ambulances, EMT’s, police officers, a coroner and lots of onlookers trying desperately to pull the dead and dying from still-treacherous waters below the rapids.  The victims were young people who were beaten by rocks, lungs full of river, no longer able to help themselves.  Knowing that he would only get in the way, the hiker hustled upstream.  There he found another frantic situation indeed.

The whitewater of Bull Sluice was enveloping kayaks, canoes and swimmers. Specially trained First Responders and Experienced Whitewater Guides were using all of their skills in efforts to get people out of harm’s way to little avail.  So the hiker went around the bend and up to a point where he heard cries for help and found several river guides and volunteers throwing floating devices on ropes, wading into swift water, hauling kids and boats up to shore from an area just above the Class IV treachery.   Many were being rescued but some were swept away.

There was still little room for him to be of any use, so the hiker ran along the bank to find a group of youngsters swimming in the river.  Some neighbors and volunteers from the down river site were trying to talk them into getting out of the water…warning of the perils downstream.

Several of them paid attention and followed the urgings of their warnings and headed in for dry land.  Finally, a few hundred yards further on, the hiker found a bend in the river where it seemed to be warm and inviting.  A group of kids were changing into swim wear and heading toward the water with rafts and inner tubes.  There were no adults supervising, warning or rescuing.  The situation was so ostensibly innocent.

He approached the young people, told them of all he had witnessed and talked about finding another way to enjoy the afternoon that might not be so life-threatening.  He showed them the way to a little private cove where still water, a diving well and nice beach waited.  Everyone took him up on the offer and enjoyed a safe day of adventure.

From the Intensive Care to Early Screening:

Our Inverted Focus (or Looking for Cures in All the Wrong Places)

I think my subtitle is a little cutesier than it should be. It makes me think of the 1980 Country song “Lookin’ for Love” by Johnny Lee making it hard to resist.  Anyway, my story about the Blue Ridge Hiker is what I believe is an upside-down pyramid of attention, emphasis, funding and research in dealing with the opioid/addiction epidemic.  The following are the categories of treatment intervention as I have experienced them in decades of direct service in the field of Substance Abuse Disorders (SUDs).

Tertiary Intervention: Most of our precious time and resources has been given to what I call tertiary intervention.  Like the hiker approaching the chaotic rescue efforts downriver, we have spent most of our time giving CPR to the dying and burying the others. Tertiary Interventions include;

  • Emergency Response Teams (First Responders, LEO’s, Emergency Rooms, Hospitals, Intensive Care)
  • 24 hour hospital based Short Term Medical Detox Centers
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Universal availability of naloxone

Secondary Intervention: These are Medically Managed Services for adolescents and adults.  In my story, it is the discovery of direct whitewater rescue.  Secondary Interventions include;

  • Hospital based 24-hour nursing care and daily physician care for severe, unstable patients who cannot manage life without these intensive services.
  • 24 hour Intensive Inpatient Services Withdrawal Management centers with counseling, physician, nursing and medication management services.
  • Residential treatment centers with flexible programs to meet individual treatment needs depending on severity of illness.

Primary Intervention: Services at this level help those who do not require round-the-clock care.  The hiker in the little tale finds swimmers and adventurers above the rapids but in some degree of real trouble.  Primary Interventions include;

  • Partial Hospitalization Services for adolescents and adults, this level of care typically provides 20 or more hours of service a week.
  • Intensive Outpatient Services for adolescents and adults, this level of care typically consists of 9 or more hours of service a week.
  • Outpatient Services for adolescents and adults, this level of care typically consists of less than 9 hours of service a week.
  • Opioid Treatment Programs. (OTP) utilizes methadone or buprenorphine formulations in an organized, ambulatory, addiction treatment clinic for clients with severe Opioid-Use Disorders to establish a maintenance state of addiction recovery
  • Drug Courts

Primary Prevention: Early Intervention for Adults and Adolescents, this level of care constitutes a service for individuals who, for a known reason, are at risk of developing substance-related problems, or a service for those for whom there is not yet sufficient information to document a diagnosable substance use disorder. This represents the final stop for our hiker.  Primary Preventions include;

There is practically universal accord that our methods of dealing with drug and alcohol abuse have failed to achieve the desired results.  The efforts to stem the tide of addiction by declaring a war on drugs (which was really a war on people engaged in it) proved almost fruitless.

The problem is that despite good intentions, and an allocation of massive funding, we are continuing to pour resources into the least effective means of turning the tables on our nationwide epidemic. Policy makers and leaders have decided to ignore the facts and double down on a status quo method of dealing with a healthcare crisis which has been raging for almost 20 years. And the status quo has made virtually zero impact (statistically speaking) on outcomes.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2018 heralds a new era which will “Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.  However, it authorizes funding at the roughly the following levels nationwide;

  • Inpatient, outpatient and OTP treatment at $4.1 billion
  • Criminal Justice at $1.59 billion
  • Prevention at $221 million (4.4 million per state)
  • Recovery Support Services (FAVOR, recovery high schools, recovery housing) at $7 million or $140 thousand per state (not even enough to fund services in Upstate South Carolina for example)

 

Iceland Teens

There is a place on the planet which has used effective local initiatives in the form of policies to discourage drug use while offering solid alternative programs.

Iceland built an anti-drug plan that focuses largely on providing kids with after-school activities, from music and the arts to sports like soccer and indoor skating to many other clubs and activities.

They coupled this approach with banning alcohol and tobacco advertising, enforcing curfews for teenagers, and getting parents more involved in their kids’ schools to further discourage drug use.

Researcher Harvey Milkman says of Iceland’s approach, that it’s “a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry … without the deleterious effects of drugs.”

As a result, Iceland, which had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, has seen adolescent consumption fall. The number of 15 and 16 year-olds who got drunk in the previous month fell from 42 percent in 1998 to just 5 percent in 2016, and the number who ever smoked marijuana dropped from 17 percent to 7 percent in the same time frame. In a similar time period, from 1997 to 2012, the percentage of 15 and 16 year-olds who participated in sports at least four times a week almost doubled — from 24 to 42 percent — and the number of kids who said they often or almost always spent time with their parents on weekdays doubled, from 23 to 46 percent.

In another approach, the State of Vermont has developed a comprehensive health care policy which has changed the outcomes for opioid disorders dramatically using medication assisted treatment programs.

It is called the “hub and spoke model” which was developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The results have been encouraging. Vermont is doing much better than nearby states.

It was the only state in New England that in 2015 was below the national average (of 16.3 per 100,000 people) for drug overdose deaths.

One of the most dramatic approaches to dealing with the Drug Crisis can be found at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Here, and in a multitude of spin-off organizations, comprehensive employment and life redirection strategies have been used to help gang members, previously incarcerated individuals and families to overcome violence and addiction.

They are unconventional.  Established by Rev. Gregory Boyle, they tell that at Homeboys, hope has an address.  He tells us that, “Homeboy Industries has been the tipping point to change the metaphors around gangs and how we deal with them in Los Angeles County.

This organization has engaged the imagination of 120,000 gang members and helped them to envision an exit ramp off the “freeway” of violence, addiction and incarceration. And the country has taken notice. We have helped more than 40 other organizations replicate elements of our service delivery model, broadening further the understanding that community trumps gang — every time.”

Every member of Homeboys must test clean on drug screens to be a part of the community service.  Their unusual program is based on a spiritual model of unconditional love.

 

Memphis is using ACE’s.

Infographic created to share information about what adverse childhood experiences are, how prevalent they are and their impact.Web jpg

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Awareness Foundation of Memphis “informs the community about the role of emotional trauma in mental, physical, and behavioral health, and implements innovative models that provide preventable and sustainable solutions to reducing toxic stress in family systems.

The Foundation launched and provides strategic oversight to the ACE Task Force of Shelby County, the Universal Parenting Places, and the Parenting Support Warm Line.” Although not an addiction or substance abuse disorder specific program, ACE’s used in the comprehensive way Memphis is developing will stem the tide through screening and direct services.  The fact is that pain drives addiction and SUDS. Drugs and alcohol are abused by people who have childhood experiences and trauma that the rest of us cannot imagine.

They are seeking relief and a hiding place.  When a community like Memphis gathers its schools, juvenile justice system, LEO’s, pediatricians, colleges, churches, other human service providers, parents and families together, you can be sure that something incredible will happen.

There is new research telling us incredible things about the way addicted brains work.  Drugs have been found to hijack dopamine systems making ‘getting high’ an almost unavoidable consequence.  Also, the adolescent brain, when exposed to drug use has little chance to form good cognitive processes. The idea that addiction is a moral failing has been practically eliminated.  With that in mind, it is even more important that we begin thinking outside of the box.

It’s Up to Us…Here and Now:

Just think…152,000 people lost from this preventable disease or disorder.  People in our lives will die.  We have a lot of work to do.  Funding and programs will only go so far.  Certainly, we have to encourage a change in the way budgets are allocated.

Prevention first…at the very top priority…is the best and most worthwhile model to embrace. We cannot keep repeating mistakes of the past and expect different outcomes.  But there is a spiritual, community reality that we must embrace as a foundation for how we deal with the problem of addiction and substance abuse disorders.

The one who suffers is not someone else but is each and every one of us.  If we are going to get beyond all of this, there is no other way to look at it.  Our wounds are shared.  We are all in this together.  Here and now, and in each and every moment, we should be asking the question ‘What can I do to help’.

Then we will find an answer.

_________________________________

Robert Kenneth Jones

Robert Kenneth Jones

Columnist

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Armed student Shots Two other Students at Great Mills High School in Maryland

Armed student Shots Two other Students at Great Mills High School in Maryland

March 20, 2018 – An armed student who shot two other students at Great Mills High School in Maryland on Tuesday morning has died, according to St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron.

The sheriff said the school resource officer engaged the shooter and ended the threat, which occurred in a hallway just before classes began. The officer fired a round at the shooter, who was armed with a handgun, and the shooter fired a round as well, Cameron said.

The gunman was later pronounced dead, and the officer was not injured, the sheriff said. A male student, 14, is in stable condition and a female student, 16, is in critical condition, he said. It’s the 17th school shooting in the United States since January 1.

“This is what we train for, this is what we prepare for, and this is what we pray that we never have to do. On this day, we realized our worst nightmare,” Cameron said.

“The notion of ‘it can’t happen here’ is no longer a notion.”

Kids for Sale

Kids for Sale

by Robert Kenneth Jones

I made the most startling discovery about the world around me when I was 20 years old.  read more…

Mass shooting plot thwarted by alert security guard

Mass shooting plot thwarted by alert security guard

WHITTIER, Calif. — Authorities say they’ve thwarted a student’s plot for a mass shooting at a Southern California high school. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that a security guard at El Camino High School in Whittier overhead a “disgruntled student” threaten to open fire on the school on Friday, just two days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told The Associated Press deputies discovered “multiple guns and ammunition” after searching the student’s home.

The suspect is a 17-year-old boy, according to the Whittier Daily News. A spokesperson for the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District told the publication the boy threatened to go home and bring back a gun following a disagreement with a teacher over his headphones, which are not allowed during class.

It was unclear if the suspect has been arrested, or who purchased or owns the weapons, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Officials scheduled a news conference for Wednesday.

Social Media: The Road to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Social Media: The Road to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Nikolas Cruz’s pathway to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. yesterday is littered with social media posts. Dark and disturbing.

What should our responsibilities as citizens be when we see this in someone’s timeline?

Do parents or friends have a legal responsibility to report this kind of content. Should Instagram bear some responsibility? What would a decent society do?

SUPPORT POLICE OFFICERS PROTECTING CHILDREN ACT

SUPPORT POLICE OFFICERS PROTECTING CHILDREN ACT

Legislation would assist law enforcement in rural communities; garners support of local sheriffs

Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s  HR 2513, the Police Officers Protecting Children Act, would allow off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm while in a school zone if a local school passes a policy allowing it.

We think it’s worth supporting!

Why?

This added layer of security for schoolchildren is particularly important in rural areas because it allows for a quicker response to help rural law enforcement, whose resources are spread thin and who often have longer distances to drive when responding to an emergency.

Q & A

Q: Why is this legislation necessary? Can’t police already carry on school grounds?

A: The Gun Free School Zones Act currently permits ON-DUTY officers to carry, but restricts the ability of qualified off-duty and retired officers to protect America’s schoolchildren.

Q: Would this bill allow anyone to carry a firearm within a school zone?

A: No, this bill is narrowly-tailored to only allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry on school grounds. It does not permit private citizens the ability to carry on school grounds.

Q: How do you make sure that these officers are capable of handling a firearm, especially after being in retirement?

A: This bill only applies to off-duty and retired law enforcement who are considered “qualified” under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA). For retired officers, they must have 10+ years of service within the law enforcement community, separate in good standing, and requalify with a firearm on a yearly basis. These retired officers are held to the same marksmanship and proficiency standards of their counterparts who are currently serving as law enforcement officers.

Q: Why is it important to allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry in a school zone?

A: America’s children deserve all the protections we can afford them. By allowing these dedicated law enforcement professionals to carry while in a school zone, you provide an extra layer of protection for children that federal law currently prohibits.

Q: What if my school does not want to allow people to carry a firearm on school grounds?

A: This legislation keeps an exemption in LEOSA that prohibits the carry of a firearm on state or local property unless express permission is provided. Individual states, localities, and school boards would have to take action to allow officers to exercise their ability to carry on school property.

Support Police Officers Protecting Children Act

Legislation would assist law enforcement in rural communities; garners support of local sheriffs

Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s  HR 2513, the Police Officers Protecting Children Act, would allow off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm while in a school zone if a local school passes a policy allowing it.

We think it’s worth supporting!

Why?

This added layer of security for schoolchildren is particularly important in rural areas because it allows for a quicker response to help rural law enforcement, whose resources are spread thin and who often have longer distances to drive when responding to an emergency.

Q & A

Q: Why is this legislation necessary? Can’t police already carry on school grounds?

A: The Gun Free School Zones Act currently permits ON-DUTY officers to carry, but restricts the ability of qualified off-duty and retired officers to protect America’s schoolchildren.

Q: Would this bill allow anyone to carry a firearm within a school zone?

A: No, this bill is narrowly-tailored to only allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry on school grounds. It does not permit private citizens the ability to carry on school grounds.

Q: How do you make sure that these officers are capable of handling a firearm, especially after being in retirement?

A: This bill only applies to off-duty and retired law enforcement who are considered “qualified” under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA). For retired officers, they must have 10+ years of service within the law enforcement community, separate in good standing, and requalify with a firearm on a yearly basis. These retired officers are held to the same marksmanship and proficiency standards of their counterparts who are currently serving as law enforcement officers.

Q: Why is it important to allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry in a school zone?

A: America’s children deserve all the protections we can afford them. By allowing these dedicated law enforcement professionals to carry while in a school zone, you provide an extra layer of protection for children that federal law currently prohibits.

 

Q: What if my school does not want to allow people to carry a firearm on school grounds?

A: This legislation keeps an exemption in LEOSA that prohibits the carry of a firearm on state or local property unless express permission is provided. Individual states, localities, and school boards would have to take action to allow officers to exercise their ability to carry on school property.

How Active Danger Situation Surveillance Tech Can Save Police Lives

How Active Danger Situation Surveillance Tech Can Save Police Lives

Police going into dangerous situations have a lot of new tools at their disposal.

Police departments have a wide range of aerial drones to choose from. These flying cameras can provide a better view of a situation, allowing police to make more informed tactical decisions.

Closer to the ground, police units are beginning to experiment with “throw cameras” like the Recon Scout XL. These small maneuverable cameras are literally designed to be thrown by police and then operated wirelessly. The small cameras can peer around corners, explore entire floors, or even crawl into spaces not deemed structurally safe.

And in the rise of the truly sci-fi based, police in some areas of the US are experimenting with wall penetrating radar. An investigation in 2015 identified at least 50 US law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the US Marshalls, that had been using radar for at least two years with minimal to no notice to the public or the courts.

The radar and aerial drones are the subjects of intense debates over the balance of police capabilities and personal privacy. The throw cameras are less controversial, at least in part because they are lesser known. It could also be that the limited range of the small terrestrial based cameras seems less invasive and less likely to be used in any sort of mass surveillance gone wrong situation.

In the face of critics, police assert that these tools used in moderation allow them to better protect themselves and the public by clarifying threats in dangerous situations.