Every morning we send our children off to school without a second thought thinking that they will be learning new wonders about the world or expanding their vocabulary and writing skills. The last thing that we as parents think about is that they will be killed by someone that walks into the school with a gun. However, the thought that someone may walk into our child’s school and harm them has come to the forefront of all parent’s minds in this country. Sadly, school shootings are happening all over this country and parents and even children are beginning to become scared. When Sandy Hook happened my son was a little over a year old and in daycare. It was easy at the time to say “well I’m just going to home school my children.” Yet here we are five years later and my son is in first grade at a local area school. The desire to shelter my child from the what if’s is strong but it is impossible to actually home school because we do enjoy having a roof over our heads and food on the table as I’m sure many other families do too. What happened in Florida has brought those fears back to light and stirred up more debate and controversy.
I personally tend to avoid politics because often times I find myself divided between both sides on where my views lie so I struggle with political debates. The majority of the time I feel that each side has their own strict view on what is right and is unwilling to budge or compromise in order to create a better political system. Why after so many mass shootings in schools, we as a nation, are still unable to come together and develop a better plan on how to protect one of our most vulnerable populations? This isn’t about gun control or about a better mental health system (even though those are important) it is about educating our children to notice the signs and empower them to speak up as well as protecting the schools in which our children attend. Every article that I have read in the last 24 hours insinuated that there were signs this man was unstable and could potentially commit such a heinous crime. Another huge issue is that this man had unrestricted access to the stairwell that he entered the school through. (Now I know that my facts may bot be 100% accurate since the media tends to skew things and spin things for dramatic flair, so please correct me if I am wrong).
So why aren’t our schools better protected? And why aren’t we educating our children on not only what to do in an emergency situation such as this but also empowering our children to use their voice to say when something doesn’t feel right about another student?
We entrust these schools with our children five days a week and expect them not only to provide a quality education but to keep them safe. So where are the locked facilities, metal detectors and guards? After 911 happened, airports and airliners changed their policies with increased security. Why aren’t we doing better in our schools? Sadly this is the world we live in where our schools should function similarly to prisons and that everyone coming and going needs to be scrutinized and screened. I know many schools in my area have locked doors during school hours where parents and visitors need to be buzzed in. Who is actually monitoring the individual that walks through those doors and what they may be bringing inside with them? I know we can’t prevent everything from happening but we can do better to provide a sense of security to parents but the children as well.
It’s also important to educate our children and teachers on what to do if a school shooting were to happen at their facility. In the hospital that I work at we have codes for a person demonstrating violence with a deadly weapon and have even had active shooter drills. These are things to think about incorporating in our school systems. I think it is also important to educate our children to speak up if something doesn’t feel right about another student. I get e-mails from my teacher if my child calls another student a name or acts out in class, yet no one spoke up about this man in Florida or voiced their concern about his behavior till after the act of violence. Everyone is so concerned about “offending people” these days that they are too afraid to say something. As parents we need to be educating our children to speak up and voice their concerns instead of making them feel like their opinion doesn’t matter or may be offensive.
I don’t have all the answers around this topic and it is a much bigger problem then what I have addressed here. All I know is that our children should feel safe at school and feel that it is a place for education as well as fun. For now I will continue to do my best to educate my own child and fight to keep him safe as best I can when he isn’t with me. However a small piece inside of me will still be terrified every time I send him off to school.