The continuing escalation of gun violence in our community and across the state has been heartbreaking. Last week’s school shooting at Oxford High School is simply horrifying. Closer to home, the domestic violence incident at the Cloisters, along with the shooting at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center and the rising school violence, have all been extremely traumatic. On top of an already difficult situation with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our people continue to face the unimaginable aftershocks of deeply stressful situations.
My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by gun violence. I remain committed to working with local authorities to understand all the information and act as a resource. I’d also like to thank our local first responders for their swift assistance and response during these difficult times.
The freedom to kill should not be more important than the freedom to live and learn in peace. As legislators, we have a responsibility to protect our communities and do something when tragedy strikes. While plenty of proactive policies have been introduced, the lack of action on this legislation has failed our residents.
After these extremely traumatic events, it’s very important that we help each other, especially our children, in a way that is supportive and based on research related to mental health outcomes.
Here’s what you can do:
1) Try to keep routines as normal as possible. Kids, especially, gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
2) Limit exposure to television and the news.
3) Be honest with kids and share as much information as they are developmentally able to handle. If you don’t have 100% correct information to share, or have not processed it yourself, communicate that and postpone the conversation.
4) Listen to kids’ fears and concerns. THIS IS MAJOR.
5) Reassure kids that the world is a good place but that there are people who do bad things.
6) PARENTS AND ADULTS need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
7) Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.
For many people, using the tips and strategies mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the current crisis. At times, however, an individual can get stuck or have difficulty managing intense reactions. It is important to seek professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.
Another resource for anyone impacted in Kalamazoo County is Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK). Their 24-hour crisis hotline for non-emergency clinical services is (888) 373-6200, or you can visit their website at https://iskzoo.org/
One more resource is OK2SAY. OK2SAY is the student safety program from the Michigan State Police that allows students to confidentially report tips on potential harm or criminal activities directed at students, school employees and schools. This is available statewide for public and private schools in Michigan, and it allows anyone to submit a confidential tip. From there, specially trained technicians receive the tips and filter the information to the appropriate agency. For more information, visit https://www.michigan.gov/ok2say.
As always, if I can be of any assistance to you or your family, please call my office at (517) 373-1785, or email me at JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
With love and support,