Over on WBUR, Dr. Gonzalo Bacigalupe, local parent who has a background as “a psychologist, a family therapist, a public health researcher and a specialist in trauma response,” writes that the stress that communities like Newton put on our children is too much.
He notes that while suicide is not contagious like a virus, suicides do happen in clusters with each having an influence on the others.
Bacigalupe offers an interesting solution: turn to the parents. He writes:
Families and parents should be invited to provide their views on the impact that the schools have on their children, via open meetings as well as anonymously via online surveys and focus groups. In almost two decades that I’ve observed the school system, I’ve seen that parents are not regularly asked for their input. More opportunities for parents to interact meaningfully rather than just hold speed interviews with teachers once or twice a year could be valuable.
Connecting school and families in more than informational meetings is not a regular practice. The school could also solicit help from the rich expertise among parents, as many communities with high-achieving students do. This is a town with high levels of expertise in so many professional and academic fields. Parents are probably the most underutilized resources in the school system. We are the most invested in the health of our children but often feel outside the decision-making process and treated with condescension. We are here to help. Maybe it is time for our town to join forces with us.
Which brings up a final question: are we as parents part of the problem (pushing kids too hard) as well as part of the solution?