Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Tali Raviv, PhD
NCS3 Co-PI and Midwest Regional Co-Director, Center for Childhood Resilience
It feels like schools are limping towards the upcoming winter vacation, barely holding on. While the authorization of vaccines for children between the ages of 5 to 11 have felt like a bright spot of light heralding increased normalcy, the rise of COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country and the discovery of the Omicron variant have returned many of us to an all-too-familiar state of anxiety. Compounding this sobering reality is another tragic déjà vu moment: the recent news of the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan. In Chicago, where I live, work, and send my children to school, school shootings are a more distant fear than the daily reality of community violence that has taken the life of 82 children aged 18 and under in our city this year alone. I have lost count of the number of times that local media has interviewed me and other members of our team to provide tips for talking with children about mass shootings and community violence. I have lost count of the number of school administrators, teachers, and mental health staff that have reached out to me for resources to support grieving school communities. At this moment in time, those of us who dedicate our work to educating youth and to creating healing-centered school communities are tired. We are more than tired: we are drained, exhausted, spent. I am tired of picking up the pieces after devastating and preventable events occur. I am angry to be hearing the same platitudes and seeing the same lack of action from leaders and legislators. We know enough about the causes of violence to be able to prevent it rather than focusing solely on healing our children after the fact. Racism. Disinvestment in communities. Unregulated gun ownership. Inequitable access to resources. I plan to take time over the winter vacation to grieve. To be grateful for my many blessings. To reconnect safely with family and friends. To nourish my soul and build my strength for the months ahead. Because we can not afford to be reactive any longer.