An unspeakable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut today. Twenty-seven innocent people—young children and their teachers—were killed at an elementary school where no one ever expected violence like this could occur, ever.

All of us are trying to make sense of this unexplainable violence and loss of precious lives.

Just two days ago in Washington, DC, Attorney General Eric Holder was presented with a landmark report from his Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. Attorney General Holder said loud and clear that this is a call to action that must not be delayed.

We know our children are our most precious treasure and the future of our country. In the words of the Task Force, "They must not be taken from us, nor can we allow violence to deprive them of their birthright of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

What can we do for these children and teachers who were not protected from violence? And for the tens of thousands of children and families who are exposed to the violence that occurs invisibly every day in every community?

We cannot bring back those who have been killed. But we can look deeply within ourselves and ask whether we are allowing violence toward children and families to go unnoticed or unchecked. We can examine how we treat those whom we most care about in our families and communities—whether we are living and teaching the power of compassion, respect, fairness, and above all non-violence. We can re-dedicate ourselves to living every moment in that spirit, making our loved ones’ lives and the lives of everyone with whom we come into contact, even at brief random moments, safer and fuller.

It shouldn’t take a catastrophe like this to renew our commitment to protecting children from violence. It should be our passion and our way of life every day, so that no more children and families are scarred by this kind of attrocity.

It is the most important thing that each of us can do to honor the lives lost and provide comfort to the children and families of Newtown. And to every child and family in this country who still needs to be defended against violence.

Hijacked by Your Brain blogs are co-authored by Jon Wortmann.

About the Author

Julian Ford Ph.D.

Julian Ford, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

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