I received an email from the principal of my kids' school yesterday informing me of their plans to have an intruder drill at school today. My heart sank. It is mind boggling that my elementary age children live in a world where they have to practice what to do in case there is an active shooter at their school. And yet, this is the reality with mass shootings happening in our country nearly every month.
At the end of the summer I watched a video of the Daily Show host Trevor Noah talking about gun violence in America. You can read about what he said or watch the clip here, but the short of it is he concluded that we are living in an age of domestic terrorism. We are afraid of our own people and violence in our own towns. It's living in fear not just from external terrorists or international threats, which are for sure real, but it's also a real fear from threats right here in our country. And it is not just the death counts that are devastating, it's also the tremendous impact these mass shootings are having on the minds of children and families. How safe do our kids feel while they are at school? How often are they worried or afraid that at any moment they need to quietly cover all the windows in their classrooms, lock doors and hide in closets? Just watch this "expert" in intruder drills lead a team training for a company.
I both fully understand that to keep our children safe these intruder drills are precautions that need to be taken and simultaneously I want to keep them home from school to avoid them feeling afraid. I decided to tell my kids this morning that they were going to have a drill today. I wanted to talk to them about safety, not just with unexpected things like fires and earthquakes (which are a real threat living in the Pacific Northwest), but with people that want to harm us. My older two boys have sadly done enough drills by now that the conversation wasn't long and they understood it like emergency preparedness. But it broke my heart to talk to my first grade daughter. I explained to her that at school they were going to have a drill about what to do in case an unsafe person is at their school, someone that wanted to hurt people, just like they've done fire drills. And she looked up at me with her big eyes and asked, "Why would someone want to hurt me?"
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