FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Fayetteville man, who lost his 6-year-old grandson in a 2012 school shooting, commented Tuesday on the interim Arkansas School Safety Commission report. While he think all the recommendations are good ideas, he thinks more focus needs to be put on emotional teachings.
Lewis’ grandson, Jesse, died during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Before Jesse’s death, Lewis would go visit him in Connecticut when he got the chance.
“He was a supercharged little kid, I mean, he’d run all over the place,” said Lewis.
Lewis had a mixed reaction to the released recommendations by the Arkansas School Safety Commission.
“I think they’re all good ideas. Many of them have been adopted by other states in the country already. They don’t always work,” said Lewis.
According to Lewis, more efforts need to go into wide-spread prevention in the form of emotional intelligence lessons. He said emotional intelligence differs from mental health counseling. It involves helping students cope with problems they face in a healthy way. Being able to show respect and kindness for others is also a big part of emotional intelligence.
One of the recommendations outlined in the interim report encourages schools to implement positive climate programs that would promote social-emotional learning. This is something Lewis said is a big move in the right direction.
“We have to come from, with these emotional intelligence concepts, a place of compassion for those kids who are hurting,” said Lewis.
Lewis wants to see emotional learning take top priority when it comes to preventing violence in schools.
“This is not being implemented in a wide way that it should be. I don’t think it would happen if we’re teaching kids to love each other,” said Lewis.
According to the chair of the Arkansas School Safety Commission, Cheryl May, a lot of effort has gone into the recommendations detailed in the report, and there’s not one big solution to stop violence in schools.
“It has to be a combination of a variety of things. Actually, a variety of things that represent all of our five subcommittees,” said May.
Lewis said he believes things could have been different if social intelligence had been taught on a wide scale back in 2012.
“My own grandson was killed, and had that school had an emotional intelligence program, I doubt that would have happened,” said Lewis.
Since Jesse’s death, Lewis’ daughter, Scarlett, started the “Choose Love Movement”. It encourages schools to implement social and emotional learning across districts. Her program is already being implemented in some Northwest Arkansas schools as well as schools all across New Hampshire.