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Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Monday: What You Can Do If You Are Angry About the War Raging in Our Streets?

Thought for the Day: This Memorial Day weekend, I am angry and I need your help. Those of you following my blog know that I have been voicing my concerns and offering suggestions of ways to help prevent the senseless loss of life from gun violence in our country. In January of 2013, after the Sandy Hook Tragedy, I wrote a letter to President Obama outlining my concerns along with creative ways to implement educational and psychological programs nationwide. Sadly, the violence has continued since then. This Memorial Day weekend began with yet another attack at the University of California in Santa Barbara. I watched in horror and sadness as the details of senseless loss of life unfolded. Unfortunately, we are living with not only a war waged by terrorists against our nation, but we are also under attack from within by angry, hurt, young adults who feel marginalized and mistreated by society.

I was also saddened to learn that my grandmother's nephew,  Herb Crane, a World War II veteran, passed away at the age of 95 two days ago. He lived a full active life. He even drove to the gym daily while in hospice care. (The article was written and aired before he passed away.) I want everyone in our nation to have the opportunity to live their lives, like Herb, to the fullest without fear of violent attacks in schools, colleges, shopping malls or movie theaters. I need your help. If you are angry, like me, and want to be part of the solution, read on on to see how you can take action...

When I get angry, I try to find ways to do something about my feelings. As a psychologist, I know that taking action helps to overcome the feelings of helplessness that arise when traumatic events occur. According to a recent analysis (February 12. 2014) by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns reported that,
"Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been at least 44 other school shootings on K-12 school or college campuses, including assaults, homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings — on average more than three a month and 13 in the first six weeks of 2014 alone."
As the death toll rises in wars raged on foreign soil, we keep track and mourn our fallen soldiers. However, a less publicized war is raging in our communities and the death toll is also rising. Sadly, many of us are becoming numb to the news of these attacks, feeling powerless to fight this battle on the home front. 

In January of 2013, I wrote to President Obama, at the time, I was hopeful that he was going to develop comprehensive programs. When I went to Washington DC to help lobby with Moms Demand Action for  Gunsense , I was told that gun control was the first place to put our efforts and that comprehensive changes would follow. However, although some states have passed more stringent laws, efforts for national reforms did not pass in Congress. Educational and Mental Health reforms have not been addressed. Although the details are still  sketchy, if a police check a month ago of the young assailant had been carried out differently, the attack might have been prevented.

Here's what you can do:
1) Share this post with your friends, family, circles, fans, &professional colleagues on all of your social networking sites;
2) Copy the letter below or write your own version based on your suggestions;
Send a copy of what I wrote (or your version of it) in an email to President Obama
4) Go to Moms Demand Action for Gun Violence and send a copy a letter they propose to your Senators and Congressmen (all you need to do is enter your zip code & the site will help you send an e-mail) 
5) Share a copy of either or both letters with your local authorities letting them know that you want comprehensive programs implemented in your town.
Here's the letter I composed (you can use it as a template or write your own):

Dear (Senator, Congressman, President Obama),
     A war is raging in our communities targeting schools, colleges, shopping malls and cinemas. We need your leadership to fight this war with as much rigor as we give to the wars abroad and the war on terrorism. The violence and post traumatic stress which this internal war leaves behind are endangering the future of our nation. As a psychologist and concerned citizen, I am calling for comprehensive programs which will endorse and offer federal financial support for enhanced educational and mental health programs. Many of these programs are already successfully implemented in other countries and in some communities in the United States. Teams of educators, psychologists, physicians, lawyers and clergy could make recommendations of programs for communities to implement across the nation. Personally, I would like to see:
1) Schools which provide programs promoting the 4th 'R,' i.e. teaching respectful relationships to children and adolescents, stop bullying, and encourage nonviolent methods of resolving conflict, should be eligible for federal funding. 
2) Increased funding for Mental Health programs in our schools and colleges. It is also important to develop programs for young adults who may fall through the cracks when they are unable to get into or drop out of college. 
3) Collaborative programs between mental health and law enforcement agencies to follow up on reports of people at risk of endangering themselves or others (including more comprehensive investigations of online hate posts). 
4) Sensible gun control legislation that will reduce access to guns and semi-automatic weapons.
5) Guidelines that will lead to sensible reduction of violence in television, movies and video games which have been proven to increase the incidence of violent behavior in young impressionable children and the mentally ill.
I would be happy to be involved and help design innovative programs that will help resolve these important issues and treat the epidemic of violence and trauma that plague our nation.

                                Dr. Barbara Lavi 
                                Weston CT


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