My kid came home and mentioned casually that a kid in her class threatened to kill another kid. I won't go into great detail for privacy reasons, also the situation was handled appropriately by her teacher and the school. Aside from the flash of discomfort that rushed over me, I was disturbed by a callous statement my daughter made. Honestly it scared the shit out of me.
She said, “I'm not too worried anyway… He's just a kid. He can't do anything"
Record scratch. I thought of all the school shootings that included children or teens that brought their parents' weapons to school… I thought of all the shooters who were later known to be mentally ill. I thought of everyone who loves their guns more than the children who have died from a bullet that could have been prevented.
I turned to my daughter. “Actually sweetheart, he can...”, I said.
Her father looked a little worried. Were we really going to go there with our child?
Yes we fucking were. Yes we are, and it's sad that we need to, but we have to
"Never underestimate a person's threats. Threats big or small should be given attention. You need not judge the other person but be aware that this thought was in their heart". I said.
“Always pay attention. If someone shows you a weapon and tells you not to tell what do you do?”
She looked a bit concerned that we were going through safety training again. “I say sure and then I tell immediately” she answered.
“If someone comes to your class and starts shooting, what do you do?”, I asked.
“Hide. I hide and put my hands or something over my head. Or if I'm near a door I can run”, she answered.
“Should you ever believe a shooter? If they tell you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or if it goes against our beliefs, just to save your life. Do you go forward with it?” I asked.
“I don't know.” She said looking for reassurance that I honestly did not have.
“I don't know either. I want to say no but I don't know. Follow your conscience.”
No matter how much prep and safety talk I do with my kids I can't control outcomes and I can't control her actions in the future. It's unsettling that you are raising kids in a world that can produce so much good but yields just as much sorrow.
I can never imagine what parents who have lost a child to senseless and often preventable violence. I can't image what they feel and I hope never to know that pain. But I don't think we do a great job of respecting these parents or the legacy of their children who have died at the hands of classmates or community members.
I don't believe in taking guns away from the responsible members of the general public. In the wake of the recent House of Representatives vote (235-180) to rescind the rule adopted in December to increase scrutiny of mentally impaired adults buying firearms, I wonder how many more gun safety laws will be lessened. With less restrictions on gun safety laws, I'm sure that more school shootings will occur and more sad massacres will come. For me, the saddest thing is that those whose lives were taken by such tragedies, are seen as collateral damage by gun lobbyists and enthusiasts intent on keeping their Second Amendment rights untouched. As a country, we must reopen conversations about how to allow people to continue exercising their rights freely without endangering our citizens that need the most protecting.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.