By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – By now, my guess is most of you with children in your lives have spoken with them to some extent about what happened in Connecticut.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Hopefully, you’ve done your best to reassure them it’s extremely unlikely anything like that would ever happen at their school, that you are going to keep them as safe as you possibly can, that they shouldn’t live in fear, and so on.

Read: Remembering the Victims

Let me just add one more suggested topic – what the kids can do to help protect themselves.

If you’ve ever been touched by a tragedy, you already know that it can often be a huge help to take on some kind of task repairing the damage.

Read: Complete Coverage From Newtown

After natural disasters, many of us rush to donate, volunteer, anything to feel useful and part of the recovery. Over the weekend we heard stories of people who jumped in their cars and drove for hours just to lay flowers at a memorial site and otherwise show their solidarity with the people of Newtown.

Maybe we can include kids in this same process by giving them something they can do.

We still don’t know what caused this, but we’re hearing a lot of talk about mental illness, about troubled kids who fall through the cracks in school, about warning signs that are missed. The kids of today have it within their power to be the generation that changes our reluctance to deal with mental illness by learning more about it, breaking the social code that ostracizes troubled kids, and speaking up when they think they see a problem.

As for the broader issues of a popular culture too often desensitized to violence, today’s kids can change that too, if they want to.

In my lifetime I’ve seen the culture turn it’s back on behaviors that were once widely accepted – smoking, drunk driving, open bigotry. The easy acceptance of, and in some cases, addiction to casual violence can be added to that list, if the generations coming up now insist on it.

Kids, you don’t need to be helpless bystanders to all this. You have work you can do – if you want it.

Sooner or later, our future depends on you saying you do.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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