1. Teach our kids about the acts of heroes in times of crisis.
Tell them about Newtown teacher Vicki Soto’s self-sacrifice and bravery. Tell them about Clackamas mall shopper Nick Meli, a concealed carry permit-holder whose quick action may have prevented additional deaths. Tell them about Family Research Council security guard Leo Johnson, who protected workers from a crazed gunman. Tell them about the heroic men in the Aurora movie theater who gave their lives taking bullets for their loved ones. Tell them about armed Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died fighting back against the museum’s nutball attacker. Tell them about armed private citizen Jeanne Assam, who gunned down the New Life Church attacker in Colorado Springs and saved untold lives.
2. Train our kids: When they see something troublesome or wrong, say something. If a young classmate exhibits bizarre or violent behavior toward himself/herself, other students, teachers, or parents, report it right away. If it gets ignored, say it louder. Don’t give up. Don’t just shrug off the “weirdo” saying/doing dangerous things and don’t just hope someone else will act.
3. Limit our kids’ time online and control their exposure to desensitizing cultural influences.
Turn off the TV. Get them off the bloody video games. Protect them from age-inappropriate Hollywood violence. Make sure they are active and engaged with us and the world, not pent up in a room online every waking moment.
4. If you see a parent struggling with an out-of-control child, don’t look the other way. If you are able to offer any kind of help, do it. Don’t wait.
5. We still don’t know the medical condition of the Newtown shooter. But we do know that social stigmas are strong. We don’t need government to take immediate, individual action to break those stigmas. There are millions of children, teens, and young adults suffering from very real mental illnesses. Be silent no more about your family’s experiences, your struggles, your pains, and your fears. Speak up.
6. Teach our kids to value and respect life by valuing and respecting them always.