A Mother’s Quest to Keep her Child Safe

May 11, 2018 | General, News, SEL

Be Part of the Solution

By Sarah Stabile

May 12, 2018

“Love is the only thing that can transcend what is going on here now and we all have the ability to choose love.  Love is the ultimate solution.”  – Scarlett Lewis on Choosing Love  (Be Part of the Solution video)

Sunday marks my first Mother’s Day as a mother.  It’s a holiday I’ve longed to celebrate for many years.  Before my son “JoJo” was born, I didn’t realize I could love one person so immensely. The Mama Bear instinct to fiercely protect my baby was innate. And now that he’s about to walk, (pulling himself up on furniture, cabinets, and walls) I chase after him while simultaneously ordering gates, sliding locks, safety catches, bumpers and socket protectors from Amazon. JoJo loves standing at the top of the stairs holding on to the gate and shaking it like a jailed cage bird. The wooden stairs were recently covered in plush carpeting – thank goodness.

“We are born of love, love is our mother” – Rumi

My husband often rolls his eyes and refers to me as a helicopter Mom. (He’s the father of two older daughters). “JoJo will fall, bump his head and cry – you cannot childproof his life,” warns the experienced father.

That’s a true statement.  Even though I can’t child-proof his life, I can certainly educate myself and teach JoJo how to be resilient, kind and courageous.

Last week, we visited a nursery school where I asked the Admissions Director about their safety protocol and whether they have a social and emotional learning program?  She explained the school has a safety protocol and team. They do not have a social and emotional learning program however; they would love to hear more about the Jesse Lewis Choose Love PreK and Toddler program (upcoming).

Many people ask: How can I can be part of the solution to create safer schools and a more peaceful world?

I did a lot of research and came up with 7 simple things:

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, a committee was tasked with researching and drafting a report that answered the question everyone was asking:  How can a gunman walk into an elementary school with assault rifles and murder 20 children and 6 educators?

They concluded that another mass school shooting could be prevented if our Nation focused on the following:

1.) Gun Safety

2.) Social and Emotional Learning

3.) Better Access to Mental Health.

Five plus years later, nothing has been done with national gun control legislation.  However, states have enacted hundreds of gun laws. In 2013, Connecticut made sweeping changes to its gun laws. 150 gun models have been banned; a sale of gun magazines with a capacity of 10 rounds are banned and a permit is now required to carry a weapon.

Our mental health crisis is growing.  According to the CDC, 43 million Americans have a mental health condition yet 57% have not received treatment. In a 5-year period, severe youth depression has increased.  50% of screeners age 11 – 17 think about suicide or self-harm every day.

I wasn’t well versed on social and emotional learning so naturally, I Googled it and discovered:  https://casel.org/what-is-sel/

What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

I heard Scarlett Lewis speak a year after her 6-year-old son; Jesse was murdered in his firstgrade classroom at Sandy Hook. My Mom gave me her book Nurturing Healing Love:  A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness and I cried my way through the pages. It’s every mother’s worst fear — I felt so much empathy.

Listening to Scarlett describe how she transformed Jesse’s message of “Nurturing Healing Love” into the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement floored me. She described the universal teachings of courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action. Teaching children to have healthy and positive relationships, deep and meaningful connections, tools and skills for resilience, caring and concern for themselves and others.  I realized, WOW, this is the solution to so many of the issues our children are facing today and this is the best way to heal a Nation in so much pain.

As a new mother who’s concerned about my son’s safety when he goes off to school, I highly recommend you educate yourself and ask the necessary questions: Do you have a safety protocol? Do you have a safety team? Do you have an SEL program?

I have friends (who out of desperation and fear) are pulling their children out of public school and sending them to private. Others are considering home schooling.  While these actions may make parents feel better about their children’s safety, it does nothing to proactively prevent another mass shooting, or substance abuse, or bullying or incarceration. Social Emotional Learning is the only solution that addresses the root cause of violence, and can ensure that our children grow up feeling so connected to one another that they wouldn’t even consider harming each other.

This Mother’s Day, I invite you to join me in being part of the solution.