Wednesday, September 11, 2019

18 Years Later: 9/11, School Shootings, and Social Media. Are We Failing Our Children by Apathy Over Empathy?

On the morning of 9/11, I got to my classroom at Clovis High in Clovis, California around 5am and was doing my usual making coffee, and my unusual excited glancing at the wedding ring I'd been wearing less than 24 hours - and distractedly happy thoughts of Honeymoon planning in France. I got a phone call from my Teacher Mentor, Gayle Taylor Davis (or the other way around - can't remember who was calling who), who broke my giddy reverie with an eerily monotone, "turn on your TV, Jonni... we're under attack." Confused for a moment as she spun me out of my personal bliss, my heart hit my toes in an instant as I watched the second plane fly into the second tower.... The next 10 hours were a blur of my Husband coming to campus with our bitty daughter Sydney, who was 5 at the time, and spending the day in my classroom with students processing the shock, fear, and trepidation that day held. I remember reaching out to Alice Keeler and Jackie Smith and the other close friend Teachers I had on campus to check-in and make sure we were taken care of, too.
My younger 2 kiddos and the kids I work with now are all too young to remember, but they know mass shootings and violence within country that can't be blamed on foreign terrorists, and is even more frightening than anything most Americans could imagine on that September morning in 2001.
It frightens me a bit that I didn't know about the Canada school shooting yesterday from my FB feed, and that I only see a few people making posts about 9/11 memorials this year. There was a time I got most of my big news about these events by watching my friends work through the processing of the fear and anger... but, apparently, not today. If we as adults are becoming numb to talking through these events, it's no wonder I sit for hours a day listening to kid, after kid, processing through emotions and thoughts they can barely verbalize. It also makes me angry and sad that social media has alternately become so divisive and is a stark notice of who we are becoming as a Nation, and as people.
If my work with children in a mental health capacity is going to "stick", we're going to have to get our collective heads out of our asses and stop complaining about our own personal daily niches of life woes... and put on some adult panties of Empathy and Community.
This is the only way we're going to collectively help our hemorrhaging social system and help our kids learn emotional regulation and empathy for future generations. Otherwise, I fear more for my grandkids' generation than I do for any of us who work in schools, today.
<3, Jonni Khat