As I read Tuesday’s edition of the Warren Times-Observer, I found myself asking the question: “Is this the world I want to be living in?” It is horrifying to me that a young Amish girl was shot in the face, even though the weapon was a BB gun! It appears that the buggy she was traveling in came under a targeted attack. There’s a lot of that going on in the world these days! But then I skimmed the news coming out of Harrisburg. A new program implemented in January fields reports from school students in distress. Lots of them. And lots of distress.
What happened to going to school to learn? Where did skipping rope during recess go? Do any children still swap half of a PB&J sandwich for a bologna & cheese? Bullying, self-harm, and suicide were the primary subjects of the reports received from children in grades K-12. The numbers are staggering. Over 23,000 tips streaming in from the internet or cell phone apps. While I applaud the Safe 2 Say Something program I find it tragic that it is needed. Yes, there were some pranks but around 2,500 of the contacts were about cutting or self-harm. Another 2,100 for depression or anxiety. And the biggest category of them all: bullying, which generated 3,600 tips.
So the question lingers, “Is this the world we want to be living in?” I appreciate the statement arising out of this study: “The numbers in this report show the reality of what our children are facing in school as they struggle with bullying, anxiety and thoughts of self-harm.” Will lawmakers respond by increasing mental health resources in schools? It remains to be seen. Is there something we can do as citizens, as Christians, as humans with a conscience?
What world do we desire? I think of the words of one of my favorite hymns, “O for a World.” Sure, they were written three decades ago but they continue to sing truth! “O for a world where everyone respects each other’s ways,/where love is lived and all is done with justice and with praise. O for a world where goods are shared and misery relieved,/where truth is spoken, children spared, equality achieved.” Thank you, Miriam Therese Winter for expressing this vision! Is this a world we’d like to live in? I’d vote for it! And labor to bring it about too! How about you?