Home > Uncategorized > Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Needed to Offset “Safety” Practices in Public Schools

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Needed to Offset “Safety” Practices in Public Schools

“Cognitive Therapy for the Country”, an article in todays NYTimes by Richard Friedman, advocates the need for a national course of cognitive behavioral therapy to offset the impact of the mass shootings that have taken place. Recounting the recent shootings at Planned Parenthood and the San Bernardino CA treatment center for disabled children, Friedman contrasts the reaction of Presidential candidates to the shootings to the sane and reasonable reaction called for:

Unfortunately, that is exactly what some of our presidential candidates have done in recent weeks. Donald J. Trump would deport all illegal immigrants, and Ben Carson would monitor mosques. Since a vast majority of immigrants and Muslims are neither terrorists nor criminals, these are laughably irrational proposals that would do nothing to diminish danger.

A better response, of course, would be to dial down our emotion, not make rash policy decisions and try to make a rational assessment of the actual threat that we face. But this is easier said than done.

After demonstrating the irrationality of our collective overreaction, Friedman notes how the Norwegians reacted to a similar horrific incident four years ago:

Consider the response of the Norwegians to the murderous rampage of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who, in 2011, massacred 77 people.

In a memorial service in Oslo two days after the tragedy, Jens Stoltenberg, then the prime minister of Norway, said: “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness and more humanity.”

My comment to the article noted that the cognitive behavioral therapy required to undo the years of “training” in our public schools will be massive.

The contrast of our reaction to Columbine to Norway’s reaction to Breivik’s “murderous rampage” is especially revealing. Since 1999 we’ve instituted lockdown drills that are as commonplace as fire drills, increased the number of surveillance cameras in schools, spent billions to improve door locks inside and outside of schools, the number of lockdown drills, and millions each year for SROs a.k.a. “good guys with guns”. We should not be surprised that the millions of students exposed to this environment and the millions of parents who supported these “safety measures” are fearful of immigrants who might be terrorists the same way they are fearful of “school visitors” who might be “shooters”.

We’ve raised a generation of children to be fearful of visitors to schools who might invade their schools and take them hostage and shoot them. We’ve put walls around them, monitored their every move, and provided them with armed guards to “keep them safe”. It’s going to take a LOT of cognitive behavioral therapy to bring us back to a time when children can feel safe in schools without surveillance cameras, with open entry ways welcoming parents, and without armed guards patrolling the campus. It’s too bad our response to school shootings was not “…more democracy, more openness and more humanity.”

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