Pharos-Tribune

July 3, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Therapists versus armed guards


Pharos-Tribune

---- — Therapists versus armed guards

After reading Amie Sites’ recent story in Pharos-Tribune, it had me asking questions such as: Why don’t schools invest in a licensed therapist instead of armed guards? Why does society place such a stigma on mental health when it is as important as our physical health? Would therapists be a better substitute than suspension/expulsion from school? In today’s world the threat and menace to our children is a desensitizing of emotion through various video games/movies/television, not to mention dysfunctional home lives. Thanks to the interference of our elected officials, teachers and guidance counselors who were at one time a valued member of society, are now tasked with being professional baby sitters to many children.

Are armed guards the measure we want to use to protect our children? If, and it is a big if, we want to leave our children a better world, surely we can act in a manner befitting our experiences as parents, community leaders, educators and “legislators” (who know nothing of what transpires within a classroom). Using the funds available to provide for licensed therapists instead armed guards is a far better idea for our schools. Armed guards are not trained therapists and while they could connect with/be a positive influence for our youth, they cannot provide the depth therapists can offer. How do we as a society shrink the necessity for armed guards in our schools while at the same time diminishing the stigma of mental health?

My wife attended this forum and related this story to me: one of the moderators asked those in attendance how many had completed their yearly physical exams then asked if anyone had taken the opportunity to speak with a mental health professional. Not surprisingly, she told me no one relayed they had seen a mental health professional. Mental health issues vary: panic attacks, depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar behavior, schizophrenia and the list goes on. My own opinion is that we (society) think these are scary people and do not want to expose our own families to people with these issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (http://www.nimh.nih.gov), it might surprise you to learn that nearly one in four people will be afflicted with a mental health disorder during any given year. So why the stigma? Can we agree that this should be discussed as many insurances now offer mental health along with physical health coverage?

We can look at this in two ways: we can either pay for the therapists in our schools now, or very possibly pay (at a much higher rate) for incarceration later. According to my wife, those in attendance were lauded for the proactive thinking shown in Cass County for the work between various agencies. It is my opinion that placing licensed therapists in our schools is a far better alternative to armed guards. Do not misinterpret my belief that our kids should be safe in schools-they should, absolutely-however, I feel that placing armed guards in schools is not the best practice for safety. I think it sends the wrong signal to our students and society at large, that violence is the only way to settle differences.

Michael S. Ayers

Logansport