In response to Paul Rebrovich’s letter to the editor published June 5:
Lumping sports medicine personnel in with psychologists, counselors and social workers is at best disingenuous, and at worst, really ignorant for someone who claims to have taught for 27 years.
Schools are more than simply a place to teach children and young adults math, arithmetic, history, sciences, etc. They are the primary socialization that our children will get from ages 6 to 18, spending 8-9 hours daily (for those not involved in extracurricular activities) in school.
Rebrovich states that “only a fool would believe that modern day schools have time for these professionals to come into our schools.” I think that I speak for a large number of parents and grandparents when I say that the mental and physical health of our children and grandchildren are far more important than the inconvenience to a teacher for one or two missed classes a week.
Suppose for a moment that the Columbine or Parkland school shooters had ready access to counselling during their time in school? I think that you will probably find that the parents of the victims who might have been spared find the self-serving notion that classes and not being annoyed comes in a distant second to the lives that might have been saved.
Childhood and adolescence are hard for the strongest of our children, for those with mental or emotional illnesses, or suffering from physical, mental or emotional abuse, it can lead to acute depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, behavioral issues, violence, suicide and murder.
A paper by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics cites suicide as a leading cause of death in U.S. elementary school-aged children and states in its conclusion that “a need for both common and developmentally specific suicide prevention strategies during the elementary school-aged and early adolescent years.”
The Jason foundation cites suicide among 10- to 24-year-olds as the second leading cause of death according to CDC statistics. They go on to say that “Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,041 attempts by young people grades 9-12. If these percentages are additionally applied to grades 7 and 8, the numbers would be higher.”
According to the CDC, 7.4% of children ages 3-17 have a diagnosed behavior issue, 7.1% have diagnosed anxiety and 3.2% have diagnosed depression. One in six children ages 2-8 (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. These are only the diagnosed cases, which could be as low as 50% of children and the report goes on to stipulate that these issues only get worse over time.
Mental health counseling is not a panacea. It will not end all suicides, it will not prevent all school violence, and it will not catch every abused child, but that’s not really what this is about. We have the means to help many more children than we are currently helping. I believe that having the ability, in this case, means having the responsibility to act.
I would strongly propose that any teacher that thinks that an algebra or social studies class is more important than our ability to diagnose and help children with mental health, home life, or emotional issues should be in a different line or work, voluntarily or not.