When Sandy Hook happened my children were still “babies,” ages 3 years and 10 months. I wept for the parents whose children were killed and witnesses such violence. Now, five years later, I am angry. I am angry that rather than make guns harder to access, we have been training our children to hide from gunmen. I don’t want schools to be a fortress. I don’t want teachers to be armed. I want our country to make guns harder to access and to ban assault rifles.
In the aftermath of Stoneman Douglass, youth are taking action against mass shootings. And, many young people are sharing how it feels to participate in an active shooter or lockdown drill. As one would suspect, many students find it terrifying; in particular once they realize what the drill is actually preparing them for.
Now ages 8 and 5 years, my children are in Elementary School and they practice for an armed intruder. Their school security has also increased, including outward facing numbers in the classroom windows and a new video system to keep school personnel aware of who is coming and going at all times. I have asked my children about the “drill” to gauge their understanding of what they are practicing for. Children are hard to read though, and mine don’t say too much about it. I certainly don’t want to scare them or in any way make them fearful of their school so I usually just let it go.
But the other day at work, my colleagues and I began to discuss gun reform and two of the women shared how they prepare their kids. One colleague mentioned that she told her daughter to use her book bag as a shield if a gunman were to ever enter the classroom. Her daughter is my son’s age. Another colleague responded that she sends her son to school with a door stopper in his book bag. She told him to shove it under the classroom door when they go into lock-down. Her son is my daughter’s age.
I stood dumbfounded, numb, and in disbelief.
After much thought, I realized that my reaction to both my colleagues and the way I handle lock-down drills with my children comes from my refusal to accept that mass shootings should be planned for. I refuse to accept that as a mother, I am supposed to prepare my children to be shot in their classroom. This is simply unacceptable and we have the power to change it.
The “debate” has gone on long enough. If you’re angry too and want to work for a reality in which our children (and teachers) are safe, check out any of the following organizations for more information, how to donate, and for ways to get involved.