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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Am Not Adam Lanza’s Mother

A very intelligent and insightful article was published in the Huffington Post. It was called I Am Adam Lanza's Mother: A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America.  In it, a mother shares her concerns for her son who suffers from mental illness. She discusses her worries about her son, her fear of her son, and her sense of helplessness to get much-needed help for him and for her. She admits that the problem is far too big for her to handle on her own. She shared her story because, as she stated, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

I, and many other mothers across the world, have one thing in common with Adam Lanza’s mother. We all, as mothers, love our children and want them to be healthy, safe, and happy. Adam Lanza’s mother loved her son too. I should imagine that her desire was to have him be happy, healthy and safe. Perhaps Nancy Lanza tried, unsuccesfully, to get help for her son. I don’t know. Perhaps Nancy Lanza’s problems with her son were far too big for to handle on her own. I don’t know.

One thing that I do know with absolute certainty, however, is that I am not Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza (God rest her soul), in the sense that my children and grandchildren do not suffer from mental illness. I have never feared, nor will I ever have any reason to fear, my children or grandchildren. I am blessed with happy, healthy children and grandchildren whom I love with my whole heart. I am loved whole-heartedly by them, as well.

I am not Adam Lanza’s mother in the sense that I would never have a weapon of war in my home. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and all of the others that preceded it, were needless and possibly preventable.

I am heartbroken by the horrific murders of children and other innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary and by the similar tragic deaths that occurred in mass shootings that preceded Sandy Hook. Senator, Elizabeth Warren, in commenting on the tragedy stated, “I don't know how to explain their deaths, or to explain why six heroic teachers and staff members needed to make the ultimate sacrifice for their kids. And I don't know how any of us explain what happened to our children and our grandchildren.

The ultimate causes of such tragedy are impossible to understand fully, but the difficulty of untangling all the elements is not an excuse for failing to do what we can to make our children safer. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children to take the steps we can to stop the violence.”

In the past two years over 6000 children have been killed by guns. That number, not only increased by 20 with the Sandy Hook tragedy, but it continues to increase daily all across this nation. Statistics show that 83 Americans die every day from gun violence.  Eight of them are children or teens. That is eight children a day, every day. That is thousands a year, and tens of thousands in the last decade.

Just expressing regrets and opening up yet another conversation about solutions to such tragedies is insufficient. It is time to take action to address the culture of violence, mental health issues, and gun reform laws in our nation.

Mental health facilities, and coverage for their services, need to be better funded There has been a decrease in coverage for mental health services and, with the looming fiscal cliff, mental health services could be in even greater jeopardy. President Obama stated in a press conference announcing his task force to address gun violence, “We’re gonna need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun.”

It is also time to take action to reform our nation’s gun laws. As Mayor Tom Menino, the  co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, stated, "Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future."

 Most gun owners are responsible people. There should be a place for responsible gun ownership in our society. But no one needs military-grade assault weapons or high-capacity magazine clips to hunt or to protect their family from intruders.

President Obama has created a task force, to be headed up by Vice President Joe Biden. The purpose of the task force is to address many-faceted solutions to the ever-increasing problem with gun violence. Senator Feinstein has introduced a bill to re-instate a ban on assault weapons and other commonsense gun control measures.

Parents and grandparents all across this nation should unite and lend support to President Obama’s reform policies and Senator Feinstein’s bill. President Obama urges Congress to support such policies, and we as responsible parents, grandparents, and other kinds of child caregivers, should also urge Congress to support such reforms.

Picture credit: Gabriella Fabbri



  1. Thank you for this.

    I feared you were going to bash the "I am Adam Lanza's mother" blog post and was pleasantly surprised to read about your gratitude, your sensible arguments, and your assertion that we must do something, and NOW, to help the people who need it.

    I also agree that we need to be responsible gun owners (those of us who own them). When the 2nd amendment was passed, it took 15 seconds to load one bullet - actually a musket ball.

    I don't think those who signed it into law had anything like this in their wildest dreams.

    My son is violent too. He is autistic, and we have placed him in a residential facility after enduring the frustration of negotiating a system which provided us no help when we needed it most.

    I am blessed that he is only violent in the "hand-to-hand combat" sense. He knows not (nor understands) the concept of guns and knives. Thank God I don't have to explain this to him. He is completely innocent of fear and grief, and for that I also am grateful.

  2. Thank you Amy for your heart-felt response to my blog posting. I am sorry to hear that you have a child suffering from autism. I am sure that you are doing everything you can to help him cope. We are in agreement that both mental health issues and gun reform need to be addressed and soon. We need action. An African proverb,"It takes a village to raise a child" is so true. We are all villagers, and it's on us to push for solutions.
    Kindest regards,

  3. One Big Question is regarding the comment that "60,000 children have been killed by guns in the last two years" and I wonder where these numbers come from? I find this number hard to believe.

    The idea that we need more gun laws and as Mayor Tom Menino, the co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, stated, "Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future." is hard to believe as few automatic weapons used.

    The idea that "military-grade assault weapons or high-capacity magazine clips to hunt or to protect their family from intruders" is true, is FALSE. The appearance of a rifle does not make it an "assault weapon" nor "military grade" as the civilian rifles are not the same.

    Any one murdered is horrible and tragic and one life lost is sad but five or ten or even 20 doesn't make it worse to the family and friends of the one person murdered. the size of the magazine is not as important as the person who uses it to kill another innocent person and two ten round magazines can do the same thing in only a second or two difference in time taken.

    Criminals, crazy, sociopath angry persons kill and the idea that the 83 Americans who die daily, and the eight who may be young, does not mean they are all innocent as some are criminals, even youth and teens are criminals, and they kill each other over drugs, money, girls or women and many other reasons, or even for no reason but because they are evil. Plus, in the past some who were shot by police or a law abiding citizen trying to save theirs or the life of others, their attackers, robbers or rapist were counted in the number of gun deaths.

    And how many are killed by drunk drivers, drug users, knives, bats, or other items? Any murder by any means of an innocent person is sad, wrong and unnecessary but we can't seem to stop then, nor are cars, bats, knives or other items outlawed, even though used to kill? No.

    Yes, more mental health evaluations, treatment and even locking up as a danger to society is a need, but we can't seem to get laws to do this. And the laws we do have, for guns, murder and other crimes, are not always enforced or being prosecuted, such as criminals, felons or mental ill persons who try to buy a gun and prevented by the record check, arrested for a crime by trying to buy a gun, itself a crime, in the first place. Let's enforce existing crimes and try to identify, treat or lock up those who may be mentally ill, sociopath or just evil first.

  4. Melissa, I'm so happy you took the time to address this issue, but I agree completely and it needs to be discussed and stopped. There is something going on in the minds of todays children that we are missing and it's killing them and others. We need it to stop--articles like yours are needed to be shared everywhere. Keep at it. Micki

  5. Yes, it is time for every one of us to think about what we personally can do to stop the violence in our culture and to keep our kids safe. Those of us who are writers need to write in a way that shows non-violent solutions to problems. We need to keep up a constant call to action. We've been given a skill and a second voice. Let us use it. Thank you Melissa for answering the call to speak out against the senseless violence in society.

  6. Thank you both, Micki and Delinda for your positive comments re my blog post, "I Am Not Adam Lanza's Mother". I am pleased that you both share my views.

  7. I think it's great the steps that child safety products have made recently! I feel much better about the future of my children.