- Posted January 28, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Newtown school shooting: Thoughts and tributes
A Response to Newtown: The S.A.F.E. Tool
Mom/Counselor Creates Risk Assessment/Reduction Tool in Responseto Recent Episodes of Gun Violence
January 23, 2013, AUSTIN, TX – In response to the Newtown shootings, mother and mental health professional, Kirsten Brunner, created the S.A.F.E. risk assessment and reduction tool: http://safetool.azurewebsites.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/SAFE-TOOL.pdf She hopes that this PDF will assist parents and community members in recognizing at-risk situations, connecting troubled individuals with support, and creating a safe environment in homes, schools and businesses across the country.
Along with most of the nation, Ms. Brunner was emotionally moved and galvanized by the shootings in Newtown, CT. After wiping away her tears, she embarked on some deep introspection and exploration as to what she can do as a parent and a mental health professional to prevent this needless and horrifying violence. While many are focusing on gun control, mental health reform or increased security, Ms. Brunner’s focus is on the micro and individual level, in the form of community risk education and reduction. “I believe that it is time for all Americans to take responsibility for reaching out to those who are troubled in our community, and more importantly, in our own families,” Ms. Brunner explains. In addition, she argues that gun owners can, and must, do more to keep their weapons safe and secure, and out of the hands of incompetent individuals.
After collaborating with peers and graphic artists, Ms. Brunner created the S.A.F.E. tool in order to encourage individuals to 1) Survey Their Surroundings, 2) Assess for Risk, 3) Find Help, and 4) Eliminate Access to Weapons. Ms. Brunner envisions the S.A.F.E. poster hanging in the offices of pediatricians, school counselors, and church leaders. She encourages anyone who wants to utilize the poster to contact her directly.
Ms. Brunner recognizes that individuals who struggle with mental health issues are far more likely to be victims of violence, rather than perpetrators. She also recognizes that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate all acts of gun violence. Nevertheless, Ms. Brunner feels that if parents, neighbors, and community leaders took a more active role in surveying their surroundings and securing weapons when necessary, our society might be able to greatly decrease the hundreds of acts of gun violence that occur every week in our nation. Ms. Brunner argues that, “It not only takes a village to raise a child… it also takes a village to keep a child safe.”
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Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC is a married mother of two boys (5 and 7 years old) in Austin, Texas. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked in the mental health field for over 15 years. She currently operates a private practice in which she works with clients of all ages, on a wide variety of issues. Before opening her practice, she worked in the corporate EAP field, consulting with managers, collaborating to prevent work-place violence and responding to onsite critical incidents.