08 Oct Protection Against Gun Violence
It haunted me for weeks- truly.
I woke up in the middle of the night – shaken from one of the many nightmares which were becoming a ritual. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the pain, suffering and sheer desperation the parents of the victims must have been feeling.
I couldn’t free my mind of those faces. Those innocent, young and hopeful faces of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 20 of them– all under the age of 8 (my son’s present age now).
I became obsessed. I would stay up late at night – reading about each and every one of them brutally shot down that horrid day of December 14, 2012. I couldn’t let it go. I still think about them – and the shooting along with so many since – leaves me on edge each and every time I send my two kids off to their schools. How did it come to this? How did an institution which symbolizes hope, prosperity and safety suddenly become a danger zone?
This is not a political blog. So, before I start getting a plethora of comments about why this crisis isn’t the result of faulty gun laws, I just want to clear the air: We all have our opinions on why, how and what needs to be fixed. I’m honestly not certain what the answer is, but I do know one is desperately needed and soon.
In the meantime, I’d like to bring up another unfortunate reality of the shooting spree syndrome our country is drowning in. Our kids see this as the “norm.”
My children, for one, see nothing abnormal about practicing “hibernation” or “suspicious culprit” drills in their respective elementary and middle schools – much like I recall practicing monthly fire drills at mine. (They have them too, obviously.) But the shooter drills – the ones where the students hide under their desks, crowd in a closet or bathroom and scurry to the floor – that’s also a common occurrence in their eyes and it makes me sick.
What’s more – there’s a new(er) and very important gun violence protection organization which was created by some of the victims’ parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The Sandy Hook Promise (www.SandyHookPromise.org) aims to educate students and adults about the importance of teaching acceptance. They advocate for anti-bullying protocols in schools and tips to promoting kindness- all amazing strategies and areas we can certainly improve upon, kids and adults alike.
The Sandy Hook Promise’s main trust is to thwart violent behaviors by addressing some of the main causes of violent attacks: depression, peer pressure and stress at home, to name a few. But this school year, the group released a PSA which showed students implemented a back-to-school essential guide: “What You Need to Survive a School Shooting” with the thought parents would purchase online prevention items much like they order spiral notebooks and erasable pens. Items mentioned included “security scissors” (“handy if you need to defend yourself against a school shooter”), a “smashing skateboard” (“to shatter any window to escape a shooter”), and a ”bulletproof backpack.”
Is that going too far? I think so! We need to arm our kids with the knowledge that the world isn’t always a happy or safe place. We need to make sure our kids learn the values to be kind and open to everyone, but we also need to allow them to maintain their innocence. Isn’t it bad enough they have to live out their youth looking over their shoulder? As a parent and a person deeply moved by the mass shootings of recent years, I think this shooter ”shopping list” takes things much too far. After all, our kids will no doubt be doubled under a desk– practicing their silence and preparing for the worst – soon enough!