You cannot pick up a newspaper today without reading an article, editorial or outright plea of one kind or another about how to stop gun violence. At first mass shootings were shocking. Next when occurrences started to become frequent, they slipped to the level of just being upsetting; and now with their regularity they have sunk to sounding commonplace. According to Megan Cassidy in the March 7th edition of The Arizona Republic, “Phoenix police alone have fielded about 50 threats to the city’s schools since the horrific Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.” Cassidy added that the same paper has recently reported on 17 more school threats throughout the state during that time.
There is no question that “gun violence” has been added to modern life. It needs to be stopped. The big question remains how? Where is the cure? Does it reside with our lawmakers who are struggling over the right laws to create that will really protect innocent people? Is it in the lap of the NRA to change some of their policies? Can we hand it over to teachers, or at least some of them, who would like to protect themselves and their students? How about hiring armed guards, ramping up services for the mentally troubled and restricting gun usage to specific places? All are good interventions, but what action will make it stop?
The answer is hiding in plain sight; education for new and young parents. In the world of early childhood, birth to three are the true formative foundation years. Study after study have given all the same results—early positive input in the first three years points to success in later life. An enriched learning environment with an emphasis on high quality and quantity language are two areas that consistently lead to happy, healthy adjusted children. In addition, parent expertise with discipline and communication are also well-accepted as ways to help children succeed.
Parent education for all parents as soon as their baby is born and even before is easier than it sounds. Every person is a product of their experiences. Therefore, every child is entitled to having the finest experiences, and every parent should know how to provide them. Use any and all the other bandaid-type solutions mentioned above that we already have available now to stop the violence, but let us also begin at the beginning to wipe out the problem. It was tried once in 1989 to turn around the crime-ridden city of Hampton, Virginia, and it worked. That city got one great big dosage of birth-to-three TLC that included with their parent skill training diapers, formula and teaching toys that helped their poor and desperate parents be able to focus on positive living skills right in their own homes.
Here is another perk of this method. Results are immediate. Then major benefits start showing up on the pre-school level and grow from there.
Violence is not a new concept. Back in 1994 the Carnegie Commission conducted a multi-million dollar research project to find out why we have so much crime and violence in our country. While they thought they were going to find out that it was because of what happens to teens and young adults, all evidence pointed to what occurs in the lives of small children during their first three formative years.
What does happen to babies, toddlers and two-year-olds that causes them to have such bad problems later in life? Some very bad things. Abuse and neglect are the main culprits. However, in addition, in varying degrees, unkind words prevail. In addition, a lack of respect and glaring mistreatment are easily found.
What to do? Provide basic parenting skills to all parents right from the start. Where is that missing place called “School for Parents-to-Be?” Start in your town, city, district, school or community and spread the word. Help bring needed parent education to all new and beginning parents because they should have it. Do what you can to make this necessity a reality. Confident parenting saves lives!