Note: "Seeking a Path to Safety" with host Amanda Dickson will air Saturday at 12 p.m. on KSL News Radio.
The Deseret News and KSL are committed to sustaining critical conversations in the wake of a string of violent shootings in America’s schools, churches and communities. The country cannot settle for moments of mourning, protest marches or social media posts. All play a part, but such activities alone will not create a sustainable movement to address safety in schools, mental health, appropriate gun laws, bullying, fatherlessness, the role of law enforcement or addiction. Real solutions require deeper dialogue and sustained conversations.
KSL Radio host Amanda Dickson convenes a panel for “Seeking a Path to Safety.” What follows is a discussion of why it is needed as well as a preview of the critical issues.
As we watched young people across the country march a week ago, prompted to take action after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, I began to think about this generation that has grown up never knowing a time when school shootings were not a "thing." I couldn't imagine that, having never experienced drills for an active shooter in elementary school. What can we do to help these young people feel safe? Be safe? What can we do to make our schools, our churches, our theaters, our public spaces safer? What can we in the media do — what is our piece of contributing to the peace? These questions prompted me to gather great thinkers from different areas of expertise together in a room and learn from them on these important questions. Commissioner of Public Safety Keith Squires, Opinion Editor of the Deseret News Boyd Matheson and director of Child and Adolescent Therapy with Wasatch Family Therapy Clair Mellenthin join me on "Seeking a Path to Safety" Saturday at 12 p.m. on KSL Newsradio. Here are their thoughts.
Coming together and having sometimes difficult conversations is a critical step in fostering change and safety. We all have a need to be seen, heard, safe and secure. We have lost that sense of community, and our children are the ones asking us to make a change to help their world become safer. This epidemic of gun violence especially in the places where a child should be safest — school, home and church — is creating an inherent belief that their world is not safe, creating a level of toxic anxiety that has not been seen in recent generations. This means we as adults have to start listening to one another and engaging in true communication across the political divide to build stronger community bonds and relationships. This is how we start on a personal level to create change. Gun violence is one symptom of relational disconnect, as is a lack of resources being given to our schools and police officers. We come from such different aspects of professional life, and it is incredible to find that we actually share the same beliefs to make some commonsense changes on a local, state and regional level.
Sadly, the recent tragedy in Parkland was not something we hadn’t seen before. Yet, it is sparking new discussions, ideas and actions that have great potential for reducing overall school violence and providing the safe learning environment all children must have. Although they are a critical component to the overall success, we can no longer solely rely on law enforcement for the answers. I am very excited by the collaborative efforts that are currently developing. Students themselves are finding their voice on this issue and effectively drawing the attention of our elected leaders. The focus back on those being threatened allows all stakeholders to expand efforts beyond the gun side of the debate and examine the core causation factors through the lenses of caring individuals with varied backgrounds, opinions and expertise. I feel confident that this momentum of public concern will continue and result in innovative ways for us to better protect children throughout Utah and the nation.
The path to safety will require citizens to engage in a sustained effort and set aside polarizing rhetoric from organizations or politicians who profit from such tragedy. It is easy to buy into either the “ban all guns” groups or the “everyone should carry a gun” groups. Sadly, both raise millions of dollars off of fear, angst, anger and frustration. We can all come together around a culture of safety, especially in our schools. Continuing the conversation is one more opportunity for Utah to show the nation that elevated dialogue and commonsense solutions are possible when you begin with principles instead of hyperbole.
Engage in the continuing conversation through "Seeking a Path to Safety" Saturday at 12 p.m. on KSL Newsradio.