The plight of the disenfranchised in our country.
Mass shootings and acts of violence are daily occurrences in our country. Most of these are committed by individuals who have lived in this country for many years and are often third and fourth generation Americans. Very few of these acts of violence have been committed by immigrants or foreign saboteurs. They are domestic terrorists. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to want to talk about or deal with these folks, and the present Administration would rather focus on building walls and expelling foreigners from this country. That, unfortunately, will not keep us safe.
There are many young people in America, some of them new arrivals, but many are third and fourth generation Americans who feel disenfranchised by this country, who do not feel a part of their communities. They indeed share many similarities with adolescents who have recently moved to a new community or school either from another part of this country or from another part of the world. Unfortunately, many of them lack the skills and attitudes necessary to become integrated into their communities.
One of the programs that we’ve been working on at Building Resilience would teach the skills and the attitudes of resilience that are necessary for their integration into our society. This program would focus on the empowerment of educators and students who would be actively involved in the creation of the program. Through increasing proficiency in these skills, such as connecting with others, communicating effectively, being flexible, being able to problem solve, manage strong feelings, and developed a sense of purpose, we would seek to increase self-esteem and integration. And most importantly, we would seek to decrease the likelihood of these young people becoming more disenchanted, isolated, dysfunctional, and radicalized. We do not need any more Sandy Hooks or Columbine shootings, or Boston Marathon bombings.
Better regulation of gun sales is important. And certainly, there is a need for better services for persons with a mental disorder. But more mental health services will not solve this problem. Research indicates that most of these individuals do not fit neatly into a diagnostic category of being mentally ill. What is clear is that most, whether they are from here or from another country, do not feel they have a viable role or place in our society. They are isolated and are easy targets for radicalization. We need to look at what we are doing to radicalize these young people and what we can do to make them a part of our society.
Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.