Standing in Solidarity for Sandy Hook

in SSW News Releases
December 20th, 2012

Dear BUSSW Community,

As we approach our holiday break here at Boston University School of Social Work, we want to acknowledge last week’s tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and to recognize publicly the sadness that we—students, faculty members, alumni and friends—are feeling as we try to comprehend the incomprehensible. As a school, we extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, and to the entire Newtown community. We also want to recognize and honor the teachers and first responders, including social workers, whose stories are now emerging; clearly, they met this brutal tragedy with courage, poise, and professionalism.

As social workers, we understand that the way forward for Newtown will be long and difficult as they work to rebuild and restore in the aftermath of the tragedy. We stand in solidarity with our social work colleagues in Connecticut, and with all those who are now called upon to support the Newtown community as it forges a new, but forever changed, future.

As a society, the conversation about preventing future tragedies has already begun. The profession of social work has a special responsibility to question, to think aloud, and to bring our formidable tools of prevention, policy analysis, community engagement, clinical and macro skills to bear on this epidemic of violence affecting our society. We also must help to contextualize the violence in Newtown, to link it to the 30,000 deaths to gun violence that occur each year in this country, and to address critical social determinants of violence afflicting so many: poverty, racism, homophobia, trauma, and sexism.

As we depart for much-needed time with families and friends, and a break from our school year, we want to conclude with a recommendation from African American poet and writer, Maya Angelou. She suggested that given the magnitude of this tragedy, we should greet one another this week with the words, “I’m sorry for OUR loss.” We use this phrase to acknowledge how painful this is and will continue to be for the people of Newtown and truly for our nation. We believe that the best way for our profession to honor the victims of this tragedy and all victims of violence is to come together as a community with renewed energy and purpose to solve the formidable challenges we face.

We will be discussing ways in which we can address these challenges and invite input from our community.

Until then, we are sorry for our loss.

Ellen DeVoe, Betty J. Ruth and Gail Steketee