“I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I let you die.” This is the message 10-year-old Daniel Ruiz wrote to his cousin, who was killed at the Uvalde school shooting, along with classmates and teachers. Our children are suffering from our inaction as a society to keep them safe. The weight of survivor’s guilt is already crushing this young boy. This message is a clarion call for all who care about children. Young Daniel Ruiz is holding himself responsible for his cousin’s death as well as the death of his friends and teachers when the blame belongs to all of us.
I want Daniel to know that we are working hard every day to keep him and his classmates safe, but are we really doing anything significant? The one immediate thing that we can do is for gun owners to safely store their weapons away from children and youth. This one step alone will save lives today! Safe storage to protect our children will ensure that another “Daniel” will not have to carry the weight of survivor’s guilt on their shoulders.
His mom Briana says Daniel is experiencing survivor’s guilt over the shooting. He lost friends and his cousin Ellie Garcia. Unfortunately, he’s not alone. The Uvalde Together Resiliency Center is seeing more and more people with survivor’s guilt. It’s common after tragedy pic.twitter.com/WVnUx0PH7a— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) January 5, 2023
Here are additional steps that can be taken to protect our children:
- Enact and Enforce Secure Firearm Storage Laws
- Pass Extreme Risk Laws
- Raise the Age to Purchase Semi-automatic Firearms
- Require Background Checks on All Gun Sales
- Foster a Safe and Trusting School Climate
- Build a Culture of Secure Gun Storage
- Create Evidence-Based Crisis Assessment/Prevention Programs in Schools
- Implement Expert-Endorsed School Security Upgrades: Entry Control and Locks
- Initiate Trauma-Informed Emergency Planning
- Avoid Practices That Can Cause Harm and Traumatize Students – retrieved from Everytown Research and Policy: How To Stop Shootings and Gun Violence in Schools A Plan to Keep Students Safe