Sacramento Symposium Addresses Approaches to Preventing Tragedy

ARDEN-ARCADE -- With the shooting in Thousand Oaks less than a week ago many across the country are looking for answers when it comes to mass shootings and what can be done to stop them.

It's the reason why education, mental health and law enforcement officials came together Wednesday to work on solutions in getting the help necessary to kids and families and keeping them healthy.

"We are the solution and we have to unite in care to be the solution for children and families," said Elizabeth Estes.

Still fresh in the minds of those who attended the symposium entitled "Breaking Barriers" was the fatal shooting last week at a Southern California bar frequented by college students. Thirteen people died, including the gunman, who shot himself. He was a Marine Corps veteran.

Estes knows that kind of trauma first-hand. She survived the takeover of a Berkeley bar by a schizophrenic gunman in 1990. The suspect held and terrorized 33 hostages for several hours before police moved in and killed him.

One young man was also killed in the siege.

"The trauma that can come from being involved in an incident like that stays with you for the rest of your life. It certainly has with me," Estes said.

Educator Crystal Hawkins says the work to prevent such tragedies starts at the preschool age.

"Allowing children the opportunity to identify these emotions and teaching them positive coping skills, positive, prosocial behaviors," Hawkins said.

Breaking Barriers is also a nonprofit Estes formed, which provides help to families with the goal of keeping them happy, healthy and whole.

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