SAN DIEGO — As San Diegans continue to try to make sense of the tragic events that have happened locally and across the country, News 8 welcomes the community’s input. In the wake of the Poway synagogue shooting, News 8 hosted “A Conversation on Healing” at Rancho Bernardo High School to hear from viewers.
The conversation was meant not to point fingers but instead to brainstorm ideas to help us combat the violence and racial tension that many teens say is getting worse.
"I'd like to say that as a teen in high school that discrimination is completely real and my best friends and I face being discriminated against as Jews on a daily basis,” said one student in attendance.
The event featured a distinguished group of panelists but it was the students in the audience who provided some of the most illuminating points.
"We've been taught that we should be tolerant of other religions and respect them but we're not being taught their history, we're not being taught about them,” said another student. “So, you don't hear kids making jokes about Valley Forge because they know the entire story.”
Dr. Jag Lathan agrees. She focuses on race relations for the County Office of Education and says it's time for schools to design culturally relevant curriculum.
"The more we know about someone else, the more we can empathize,” said Dr. Lathan. “We don't have to agree, you don't have to agree, but I hear you, I'm listening to you and I'm not going to hate you because of your heritage or your experience.”
The town hall on Tuesday was only supposed to last two hours but went long as parents addressed concerns ranging from better communication during a lockdown to specific procedures followed after a student reports hate speech. There was also an important discussion about mental health and the need to get help sooner rather than later.
One mother in attendance had survived the Las Vegas shooting and said she has since received coping skills to deal with her PTSD. She wondered if maybe students should get those same skills before they face a tragedy. Her sentiment was echoed by at least one panelist.
"You don't have to seek mental health services just when you have clinical depression, clinical anxiety, clinical PTSD,” said Dr. Susan Writer.