Washington, DC has become a place of sound bites, posturing, and token measures meant to appease as opposed to addressing issues in a meaningful way. Next week I head to Washington, DC for the annual meeting of the Child Welfare League of America. As part of the conference, delegates will walk the halls of Congress advocating
for the needs of vulnerable children and families. Without exception, we will get a cordial reception by all our elected officials. Their staff will acknowledge our contribution to the field, our indispensable services, and assure us that they will advocate for those we serve. However, even the most effective of our legislators, like Representative Karen Bass, are up against a system that is driven by priorities that do not include the needs of those for whom we care.
The current debate on “gun control” is the most recent example. Will the modest measures that have survived the winnowing legislative process make any difference? Without being too skeptical, I suggest that more attention has been placed on the actual process than the intended outcome. As a result, no measurable benefit will come from whatever legislation may emerge. Perhaps less legislation and more common sense measures is the answer.
How can we address maintaining a secure society let alone one that is safe for our children without addressing the need for resources to provide adequate care for those who are most vulnerable? For many, they are made vulnerable by crisis and trauma that impact their mental health. Mental illness is an epidemic in our country that barely is recognized. The majority of those suffering mental illness are untreated either because of a failure to diagnose or limited access to care. Those experiencing mental illness are not to be feared; treatment can be very effective. But without an awareness of the illness and the necessary resources to provide effective interventions, it can be deadly!
I can only hope that the lack of mention of the need to reinforce the mental health service delivery system in the gun control debate is an attempt to appropriately disconnect the two and develop legislation that exclusively addresses the resources needed to adequately provide good and quality mental health services.
Common sense dictates that we keep guns out of the hands of those who would do us harm. Common sense motivates us to keep those most vulnerable safe. Common sense helps us to establish priorities in allocating precious resources to address the most vulnerable effectively.
At the end of the day, measures in Sacramento, CA and Washington, DC are important, but never a substitute for common sense and the commitment
of each of us to hold the safety and security of our society, and especially our children, as a priority.