SENSE OF SAFETY: TV6 Investigates how adults can make a difference

Jenna Jackson A picture is worth a thousand words.

Pictures are used to remember moments in times of joy, in times spent with our loved ones.

But lately, many pictures show our country's trauma and anguish.

Memorials after mass shootings are becoming a norm. Although a mass school shooting has not happened in the Quad Cities area, the QCA has come close.

In May 2018, Matthew Milby was taken down by now-former school resource officer (SRO) Mark Dallas after shots rang out in Dixon High School. Milby was recently found unfit to stand trial.

Months later in August, now 13-year-old Luke Andrews brought a gun to North Scott Junior High, pointed in his teacher's face, and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire.

TV6 has held back showing Andrews' face partly because he's a minor. Riverdale School District's SRO Jim Miller weighs in, "What we forget sometimes in relationship [sic] to young offenders is who they really are and what they really look like and appear to be. We're not looking for people who are constantly having issues and problems it could be your person to the left or right of your home."

Gary Thrapp runs Beyond the Baseline, an after school program. He also works with troubled youth. Thrapp says violence and crime ranging through theft and robbery, to gang violence to even school shootings affect most kids in our community whether they are directly involved or not. "While us [sic] as adults are arguing, whether it's politics or opinions, our kids are scared. They're listening to us and our temperatures and our rhetoric and they're just bottom-line scared."

TV6 Investigates looked into how kids in our country got to this point. Licensed Therapist Mollie Schmelzer has one idea, "What we're done wrong is leaving children to their own devices when they needed guidance."

SRO Miller agrees, "They're more desensitized and numb to some of the violence and the blood, the guts, the gore that they see on some of these video games and the meaning behind some of these songs going through their heads are becoming a part of the reality of their life."

To challenge that reality, experts say we need to monitor what images kids see on a daily basis. Thrapp also says we need to invest in kid's lives, "We got to look beyond that politics stuff and get down to the core issues of taking care of our kids and what we're communicating and how we're communicating to kids because they're listening."

Miller, Schmelzer, and Thrapp all say by gaining a child or teen's trust, adults are showing he or she's is cared about. They say, in turn, kids will feel more comfortable coming to adults when they know something is wrong.

It's a way each and every one of us can start to paint that picture worth a thousand words. A sense of safety.