Can You Read My Mind?

I'm tired. I'm sick and tired and want something to change. I don't want to live in fear every time I walk into my school job. I don't want there to be signs on the door that say that we prohibit weapons. I don't want to have to attend active shooter training (which gave me intense and horrible anxiety dreams) in order to learn that there is really nothing that I can do in the case of an active shooter in my school. I am tired of it all.

We're told so many conflicting things about situations like the latest in Florida. We get told that it's not the fault of the manufacturers, it's not the fault of the people who make regulatory laws about gun ownership, it's not the fault of such and such. We're told that the person who acted was an individual who chose to take advantage of the loopholes, technicalities, and FREEDOM that we are offered in this country. There will be an assumption that the person who acted was mentally ill, and there will be some blame placed on those people closest to him. "Why didn't they tell anyone?" "Why didn't they SEE what was going on?" The blame will shift onto the shoulders of the survivors. "We need to be trained better on how to respond to this specific situation." "We need to protect our students better - let's add more guns into the environment!" "If those teachers had been more..." The facts will be bent and twisted and over analyzed until there will be little to no fact left anymore.

I improvised a song yesterday for my last two groups of kids. There are students there who appear to think that what they think is something that everyone can hear. So, I sang a song asking them if they could "Read my mind." They couldn't. I was thinking about how much I wanted chocolate cake for dinner but would have to make it first, so I probably wasn't going to get any - I didn't. I asked them if they thought I could read their minds. Many of them stated that they thought I could read their minds.

Now, I am a good behavior manager, but I haven't mastered the act of reading minds yet. I can often tell what is going on with a client, but I still don't know most of the motivation for what is happening. I often forget that some of my clients have auditory hallucinations, so they are actually hearing things that I cannot hear. My point through my improvisation was that my students have to tell me what is happening. I cannot fix any situation if I do not know what it is. I cannot even start to figure out a solution if I do not know what is happening.

I think there may be some parallels between what my students and I sang about yesterday and the violence that people perpetrate on others. We're told that the people around perpetrators should have picked up on something...anything that would give us a clue about what they were planning on doing.

Can you read my mind?

Whether you believe in the right to own guns to use in any and all types of situations or not, I hope that we all believe that the death of any person is a reason to stop, to think, and to try to change. For me, I don't believe there is just one solution. I don't think that banning guns will work on its own. I don't think that banning violence on media will work. I don't think that banning music that glorifies violence will work. I don't think that talking about what SHOULD have happened in the community prior to the violence will work.

I think it is time to make all things start to work for us all. We need to focus on offering mental health for all those who need it. We need to focus on guns and how easy it is to buy one - both legally and illegally. We need to support communities. We need to be talking about violence and how it is portrayed all around us. We need to be decreasing the number of students that pass through classrooms. We need to be talking more and more about the differences between what we see. We need to strengthen our proactive and our reactive interventions.

Do I have a solution? No. 

I am stuck in a reactive mode, just like everyone else in the world right now. 

What would I do? I think I would start with increasing funding for mental health treatment in all communities. I would want counselors and therapists to be out in the communities, interacting with people in settings outside of clinics. I would want the idea of mental "illness" to change a bit into something that is less stigmatizing and more regular. I would want it to be more difficult to get a gun for any reason. 

I am fine with the idea of no guns being sold for any reason at all. 

I want teachers and other school personnel to be able to get to know every student individually through smaller class sizes and more individualized time. I want schools to be a place where children, those who are most affected by violence, know that they will be safe without having all the responsibility fall on the backs of teachers. I want there to be trauma-informed care available for all survivors - again, without stigma.

Here's what I want.

I want to be able to walk into my school building and to know that there is no chance that someone could walk into music therapy and shoot me. I want to know that my nephews will walk into their school buildings and will be safe from being shot. I want these acts of violence to stop before they start. I want to be able to get the people I work for and with the services that they need without worrying about whether insurance will pay for treatment. I want my clients to be able to access the services that they need wherever they are, without stigma, and with people who are not overworked.

Can you read my mind?

Please. Read my mind.


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