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The words fear and school should not be in the same sentence. Neither should shootings and guns and class time.
After the recent shooting incident at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College the subjects of mass shootings and gun control were brought up again in the media, articles and opinions were shared via social media and people reposted and retweeted in what seems to be an all too common cycle of upheaval and buzz followed by silence.
One of the articles a friend shared on Facebook was an op-ed Washington Post piece by Arlington, Va. teacher Launa Hall titled Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills. As soon as I read that title I thought about Gaby and something we talked about last year when she was in Kindergarten.
“Mom, I am scared,” she said.
“What happened?,” I asked.
“I am scared that I am going do die at school,” she replied.
“Why?!? What is going on?,” I said, pretty shocked she had even said those words.
“Today we practiced hiding in case a man with a gun comes and tries to kill us. Is that going to happen?”
Of course she was talking about one of those drills at school! I thought, wow, look how far we’ve come that we don’t even care about the effect these things might have on our children. We would rather train them to save their lives and traumatize them in the process than focus as adults on an honest and massive effort to deal with this mass shooting epidemic.
“When you’re guiding 4- and 5-year-olds through a drill, your choice of words can mean everything. “Activity,” not “game,” because we laugh during games, and I can’t risk introducing laughter. I don’t say “police,” because some little kids find police officers scary, and I can’t risk introducing tears,” writes Launa Hall.
“We get the children into the closet. My assistant lowers the window blinds, submerging our bright classroom in an odd, midday twilight, while I go to the classroom door.”
“We hear the echoing footsteps, then the sharp, metallic rattle of the doorknob. I absolutely know that I locked that door not three minutes before, and yet I’m flooded with an absurd relief when our lock holds. The footsteps fall away down the hallway, and we hear the next door rattle, and the next. It won’t be long now.”
From what I’ve asked Gaby, things are not this graphic or ‘real’ during her school drills, but they do feel fear and uncertainty especially the first times around when teachers are still trying to explain what this is all about.
Our kids should not be going through this. I remember when I was in elementary and we had drills for tornadoes and hurricanes – for natural disasters – but now things are at a whole different level.
Why can’t our government and society as a whole tackle this issue differently. I am sure there are different things that can be done to change things.
Take the media, for example, coming from a communications background one thing that really bothers me is that every time one of these shootings happen most of the attention turns to who the shooter was/is and anything relating to this person.
Why are we giving these people so much attention and a platform to share their hatred once they are gone?!? Let’s eliminate their right to get free publicity and maybe, just maybe, that can deter some of them from doing such nasty things.
I want to end with another excerpt from Launa Hall’s piece.
“Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them.”
P.S. I typically stay away from writing posts about negative things but I felt that this needed to be written. We need to stand up for our kids whichever way we can.