What Next After Sandy Hook?

Like almost everyone, I have been praying for the victims and their families since I first heard the news about the horrible tragedy in Newtown. As a father of two little boys, Jack (eight years old) and Quinn (five), I’m heartbroken and in a state of complete shock about how something like this could happen. My wife and I are now trying to figure out how to talk to our boys about the massacre. Sandy Hook Elementary School is only 39 miles from our home but since we watch almost no television they still don’t know what happened. We’ve been informed that our school will conduct a “lock-down drill” so that the children and teachers know how to handle such an assault if it should happens to us. We’ve got to figure it out, quickly.

But I just can’t wrap my head around any of it. How will we help our boys make sense of what happened? The truth is — we can’t.

All we can do is talk to them gently about the tragic events. Answer their questions, assure them that they are safe and pray for the boys, girls and teachers that will not be going to school.

As a father, a citizen and a member of the buildOn team, I feel like we’ve got to do more. I don’t have all the answers but I know we’ve got to educate ourselves about the issues surrounding mental illness, gun violence and gun control in our country. The facts are stark. 30,000 people die every year as a result of gun violence. In fact, more Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Nicholas Kristof, in his New York Times op-ed on Sunday asks one of the most important questions: Do we have the courage to stop this?

We’ve got to come together as a community and a nation to stop the madness. We’ve got to become even stronger advocates for non-violence and work hard for change. What are the next steps? I’m not sure yet. What do you think?

buildOn engages thousands of urban youth across the U.S. every day. They are a powerful force for transformation in their communities and around the world. I’m sure they have already begun to respond and will take real action against the violence. I am looking forward, with hope, to hearing their ideas and yours. Let’s begin the discussion right now.