I have been struggling with what to write for my opening Patch blog—with so many issues near and dear to my heart, including my passions: community public safety, student safety, and general health and wellness—how would I decide where to begin blogging?
Last week there was a school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, a town about 30 miles outside of Cleveland. The suspect has been described by the Associated Press “as an outcast who had apparently been bullied.” At this writing, three students are dead and two remain injured.
Recently we have seen local news stories of teen alcohol and drug use in and around our high schools. We have experienced the tragedy of teen suicides by victims of bullying in our county in the recent past. In April of 2009, less than three years ago, a bomb plot was thwarted at Springbrook High School that targeted the school’s principal and a school counselor. Just two weeks ago we saw a school lunch fight videotaped and uploaded to YouTube while the fight was still in progress. And let’s not forget the Discovery building active-shooter response so carefully handled by our county’s first responders in September 2010. Yes, these are just a few of the bad things have happened right here in Montgomery County—that have been broadcasted.
We must examine our culture closely: How could a school shooting like this happen in our country in this day and age, and what will prevent it from happening here? What other issues are we willing to pretend can’t or won’t happen here? What collaborative efforts are ongoing in Montgomery County to ensure incidents like this don’t happen here, and are handled successfully when they do?
Montgomery County is, indeed, one of the greatest places to live—therefore, we, as community members, need to make sure we are recognizing, addressing and confronting these issues head-on to prevent future tragedies. We mustn’t pretend these things won’t happen here, because many of them already have—many underreported and unpublicized.
Together we must acknowledge these issues and threats are real, and hold our elected officials accountable to maintain adequate public safety funding to prevent them from happening here, and, at a minimum, make sure that we all--not just first responders--are trained and prepared for them in case they do.
Are WE ready? Let’s start the courageous conversations now, before it’s too late.