This post, written by Erin Jantz, originally was published on October 27, 2015, on the ICTG blog.
Two weeks ago there was another shooting at an elementary school. This one was not sensational enough to warrant national media coverage, but it mattered to me. In part because every time this happens, it should matter – may God forbid that we ever become desensitized to this kind of violence. But it also mattered because it happened at an elementary school two blocks from my house, where my children used to be in attendance. It has affected people I know by name and a community of which I am a part. It is not something that happened to “someone, somewhere out there.” It came to my home. This incident, which left a school daycare worker permanently disabled, and was witnessed by 40 students in after-school care at the time, is a stark reminder that trauma does not discriminate. Violence does not only exist in “other places” and the attitude of, “Well, that won’t happen here, not to us,” is one ripe for disorientation and difficulty healing when it inevitably does. Even where I live in suburbia, at one of the top schools in our state, people continue to be just that – people.
From my position and experience with ICTG, I was surprised and worried not only by the fact that this happened at all, but additionally by the way the situation was handled and the gaps in preparation that this shooting exposed. Many parents found out about the incident through local media before they heard any direct communication from the school. My own social media feeds were flooded with friends and neighbors discussing their own fears, shock, anger, and questions publicly.
The school district has caught up well. Information is available, there have been meetings with school and city officials to answer questions, and mental health counselors were available to students the school day after the incident. However, I am still left with questions of my own....
I was so thankful for many of our ICTG resources that I could easily direct people to for help with many of these topics. Tragedy makes us very aware of the circles of community that we are a part of and how the parts affect each other. New depth of relationship is being forged and challenged at every step towards healing between groups that didn’t know they needed each other. ICTG continues to speak into these gaps by providing resources and consultation for those who wish to be prepared for the entire journey of healing should trauma come home.
We are also providing practical help and resources for those who have been caught unawares and are asking, “What do we do now?” There will always be a new “now” question for those who experience trauma. What do we do now...
ICTG desires to come alongside at each stage of the journey, whether it is explaining the trajectory of trauma, how to mourn a tragedy together, how to speak to hurting children, or how congregations can be better prepared next time. These are all topics my local community is currently facing, answers and resources that are needed for good healing to take place.
While I clearly believe in the necessity of ICTG enough to have devoted time and talents to the organization, these last two weeks I have been thankful for its existence as a member of a traumatized community. I have been able to be a better neighbor, friend, and parent as a result of my own training and the resources available to hand to my community. Healing from trauma can bring us together; it does not have to result in the total breakdown of relationships and community. My prayers, heart, and hands are with my community, and my colleagues, as we continue to walk forward, together.
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