School Shootings have got to stop and there is no debate that they need to stop. The debate is over how. More guns, less guns, gun control, mental health, better parenting, arming teachers, and/or school security. The list goes on, and almost everyone has a strong opinion that they believe, if implemented, would be the best solution. And most people are viscerally reactionary to a differing opinion. Our nation’s leaders are no different in how they feel about this issue. This is an ethical dilemma that needs to be solved, and needs to be solved quickly. To better understand each other and actually move toward any solution or change, I suggest that we reframe the debate with the help of some of our neighbors to the North.
The Canadian Psychological Association developed a code of ethics which contains within it a process that our legislators and us as citizens can use to move to a place where healthy debate and positive change can take place (CPA, 2017). This process contains a 10 step process to help solve ethical dilemmas.
- Identification of the individuals and groups potentially affected by the decision.
- Identification of ethically relevant issues and practices, including the moral rights, values, well- being, best interests, and any other relevant characteristics of the individuals and groups involved, as well as the cultural, social, historical, economic, institutional, legal or political context or other circumstances in which the ethical problem arose.
- Consideration of how one’s own biases, external pressures, personal needs, self-interest, or cultural, social, historical, economic, institutional, legal, or political context and background, might influence the development of or choice between courses of action.
- Development of alternative courses of action.
- Analysis of likely short-term, ongoing, and long-term risks and benefits of each course of action on the individuals and groups involved or likely to be affected, taking into account relevant individual and cultural, social, historical, economic, institutional, legal, and political contextual factors.
- Choice of course of action after conscientious application of existing principles, values, and standards (which includes but would not be limited to relevant laws and regulations).
- Action, with a commitment to assume responsibility for the consequences of the action.
- Evaluation of the results of the course of action.
- Assumption of responsibility for consequences of action, including correction of negative consequences, if any, or re-engaging in the decision-making process if the ethical issue is not resolved.
- Appropriate action, as warranted and feasible, to prevent future occurrences of the dilemma (e.g., communication and problem solving with colleagues and team members or other collaborators; changes in procedures and practices). (CPA, 2017)
On the school shooting issue, inability of positive action has been the status quo among our leadership for quite some time. Using this process from the CPA code will enable leaders to discuss the issues in a more healthy way. Using this process, leaders are encouraged to talk with all parties who may be affected by a change of policy (CPA, 2017). It would be important that leaders seek to understand where all parties are coming from and also understand where they themselves are coming from, not forgetting about implicit attitudes and biases that they may have.
Many different approaches would be considered and nothing during the beginning of this process should be off the table. Many times, leaders dismiss approaches because they are unconventional, but often an unconventional problem needs an unconventional solution. What this also does, is help all parties feel like they have a voice and have been heard even if their idea in full or in part is not used in the ultimate solution.
It would be foolish to think that whatever solution that is implemented has a 100% chance of working. This is why we need to evaluate the solution. During evaluation, leaders can see what is working and what is not working. This can lead to modifications or using a different course of action all together. Having a certain level of maturity to take ownership for mistakes and correct those mistakes will be important during this time.
Even if one does not agree this process will work, let’s talk about another process that may work better to facilitate positive results. First debating the process, many will be less apt to have a visceral response to a differing opinion. Once, an agreeable process is decided on to frame the debate, we will be quickly moving toward a solution that everyone can agree to. These 10 steps can provide the framework that is missing or at least a guide to a framework in which this nation can create positive solutions which will better protect our most precious commodity, our children.
Canadian Psychological Association. (2000). CPA code of ethics for psychologists . Retrieved from http://www.cpa.ca/aboutcpa/committees/ethics/codeofethics/