Contributor: Rebekah J. Salt
In the United States, as of May, there were 212 reported mass shootings, and the number is steadily rising (Diaz, 2022). In 2019, there were verified 417 mass shootings, 610 in 2020, and 692 in 2021 (Gun Violence Archive, 2022). In 2021 of the 692, a reported 34 of those were in educational institutions (Education Week, 2022).
The Uvalde massacre of 19 innocent little souls and their two dedicated teachers once again caused me to reflect on my purpose and future as an educator. I am saturated and weary of the constant excuses, propaganda, and proposals of strategies that are geared toward imprisoning us in the institutions that were designed to liberate us. I started my graduate journey 25 years ago idealistic and community health focused. My university did not train me to be a combat soldier!
My university taught me to unpack my philosophical backpack. They challenged me to consider my privilege, to explore injustice and inequity, and to advocate for vulnerable populations. I refuse to repack that backpack with the status quo. My university taught me to navigate with a social justice lens and to train nurses to provide compassionate, safe, and culturally sensitive care. My university did not train me to be an assault weapons specialist.
My university taught me boots-on-the-ground strategies and prevention. They trained me to operationalize a community-based approach that promotes health and well-being. I was taught to leave the world a better place than I found it. My university did not train me to be a combat strategist.
My university taught me how to navigate a public health crisis. They trained me to collaborate, educate, vaccinate, and protect students, patients, and the public against threats like SARS-CoV-2. My university did not train me in combat maneuvers to protect students, patients, and the public from bullets.
I refuse to carry a backpack filled with fear and despair. Right now, I do not know how this latest mass shooting will affect policy or if anyone will listen, but what I do know is that my university did not train me to be a combat solider!
Diaz, J. (2022, May 25). 27 school shootings have taken place so far this year. https://www.npr.org/2022/05/24/1101050970/2022-school-shootings-so-far
Education Week. (2022, May 25). School shootings this year. How many and where. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01
Gun Violence Archive. (2022). Gun violence archives. Past summary ledgers. https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls
About Rebekah Salt
Dr. Salt brings 39 years of nursing experience to her current role as an educator and nurse researcher. She earned a master’s degree in Cross Cultural and Community Health Nursing and a PhD in nursing, focusing on social determinants of health. Dr. Salt teaches community health and works with vulnerable populations using a Community-Based Participatory Research and community engaged approach. Her work has been disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and at regional, national, and international conferences.