Broken families lead to tragic headlines

Editor, Times-Dispatch:
On Saturday, January 7, 2023, three front-page headlines in the Richmond Times-Dispatch were about public schools.

Sadly, six days into the new year, one of those headlines reported another school shooting.

This one did not fit what has become a predictable pattern of shooter intrusions. Unfortunately, a Newport News first-grader brought a gun to school and shot his classroom teacher.

Regrettably, I’m not surprised.

For too long in America, one of our essential assets—our families— have been quietly eroding.

In an August 2022 report issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “nearly 24 million children live in a single parent family in the United States, or about “one in every three kids across America.”

That instability impacts our neighborhoods, schools, judicial systems, the human infrastructure systems created to assist families—and our future.

Continuing to neglect the erosion of our families will only ensure more tragic headlines.

We can’t legislate our way out of this mess. Nor can the Treasury print enough currency to fix it.

What can we do?

We must value time.

Valuing time means taking the time to listen and learn from our families who are in a battle everyday to survive.

Additionally, that listening must include the overloaded professionals who work in the trenches everyday to support these families.

From that listening and learning, we must commit to the challenging work of breaking the entrenchment of our ineffective systems.

Perhaps you have followed the remarkable recovery of Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin. After being injured in a game with the Cincinnati Bengals, well-trained medical personnel with urgency and precision saved his life.

Our families in America are in need of the same urgent, resuscitating intervention.

With every second we lose, another heartbreaking headline is developing.

Bill Pike

Author’s note: This letter to the editor appeared in the Sunday, January 15, 2023 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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