Let me start this post off with one story, and 2 pieces of information about my experiences with guns. First the information. I have never owned a gun or used one. Unless we are counting bb pellet guns, because I have held and used those. Secondly, I understand that Constitutionally we have the right to own and bear arms. I am not downplaying that. I think there is some work we can do in that arena with our laws as well, but I also feel as a mother I have the responsibility to see what I can personally do to help provide solutions for the current problem we have. Because already far too many innocent lives have been lost, and I am saddened that so many school aged children in our nation today have the very real fear that one day they too will be the victims of gun violence while at school.
I know that other mothers and fathers have had these same kitchen table discussions with children far younger than we ever thought could be potential victims to this type of violence. And the fact that we can no longer ensure our children’s safety while at school means we have a BIG problem. We are way past pointing fingers at just any one source. That is a juvenile approach and we as concerned parents and Americans are better than that.
Yesterday after yet another gun violence threat popped up at my daughter’s High School I posted a question on my personal Facebook account. Here’s what I said.
“Alright, so let’s talk. And if you get ugly you are kicked off this thread. Understood? Anyways, Sam came into our room late last night and said that an image was circulating on twitter with an image of a gun that said “Don’t go to school tomorrow.” Her school. I asked if she wanted to stay home. She said the consensus on all of her chats which were blowing up last night was that it is a joke. A really bad one obviously. I just dropped her off and the school was a ghost town. Then right after I dropped her off every phone in our house rang with a message from the school that they were aware of the image and there would be an increased police presence at the school all day. I appreciated the call, but parents come on we can and need to do better. I hear a lot of talk, and yelling and screaming. Obviously, our kids are going to school with a very different reality than we faced growing up. So in a thoughtful way let’s start talking about what we can do. I was a political activist in a past life and I am not afraid to get vocal.”
Quite a few people chimed in. There were a lot of ideas brought to the table, and just as is most usually the case, we discussed how this is a problem that Washington can’t fix alone. We have to be involved.
I am going to include some of the ideas hashed out on my thread and I welcome your own thoughts and ideas. I know we can’t stop bad things from happening in the world, but we can try to do something.
Read through these, and then let’s talk about what you feel you can start doing in your own community:
The problem is, I don’t think it’s just 1 thing. I think it’s a very multi-faceted problem. Having kids in public school scares me. Having a husband who teaches in an extremely rough public school scares me. I think teachers and staff should be able to carry if they choose – if they choose, being the key point. I think teaching them to shelter in place is stupid. Both sitting there waiting to get killed when there is an active shooter and not allowing guns on campus are making people sitting ducks. I also HATE that they won’t be honest in telling our kids what they’re doing these drills for. “In case there’s an angry bee swarm on campus???” give me a break! I think in addition to allowing teachers and staff to carry, I think if retired military want to be paid to stand outside and carry, I’m good with that too. My sister in law is married to my brother in border patrol and he insists that she carry a gun in the diaper bag so she can help if anything goes down when she’s out and about. That could be really smart.
I think teaching our kids to be empathetic and actually being around to parent are problems. There is so much bullying; especially when you add social media. We didn’t have that when we were kids. Some of the “cool” kids had pagers. Social media really amps it up.
I think talking about it all being mental illness is bad. Not everyone with a mental illness is going to kill a bunch of people and it sends the message that you can’t admit you need help.
I think all of the desensitization of kids with violent video games, movies and pornography is a big problem. I haven’t watched tv with commercials and whatnot since my mission and every time I’m somewhere with people who do I’m shocked and uncomfortable with what I see and hear. How did this become acceptable???
There are a lot of things leading to this and some things are going to take a long time to change; if we even can. But I think one of the most important things we can do as members/parents is to help teach our kids to follow the spirit. To stay away from things and situations that don’t feel right, to step in when they need to, and to love those around them.
Those are my, off the top of my head, thoughts.
Part of this too is that to the best of my knowledge none of the people who have gone in a shot up schools gave a heads up that it was happening. So this is a teenager who has a test they didn’t study for or a paper due that they didn’t write and to get out of it they posted a threat and now everyone’s education is disrupted because all day long the kids are going to be wondering “am I going to get shot?”. So there needs to be a conversation about pranks and what’s appropriate and what isn’t with the school as a whole and between students and parent.
Another form of terrorism? Now we have to take them serious because Cruz posted on YouTube in Sept 2017 he was going to become a professional school shooter. Huge warning sign! Need to talk to kids and explain the seriousness of playing pranks. And who knows if this was a prank. Seems silly but we were told the ‘cry wolf’ story many times as kids. Kids know who the ‘odd’ ones are amongst them. The kids all said amongst themselves that they believed Cruz would come to school and shoot people. Kids need to understand to speak up with their concerns about a person’s bizarre behavior but not to make stuff up about a person either.
I don’t understand why it’s so hard to have carrying and trained security officers at schools. It would give everyone a little peace of mind and it would make potential shooters think twice. I know the issue is deeper and it won’t fix it all but for now it would be SOMETHING. Don’t our kids deserve at least that?
I firmly believe in “See something, say something” and the school should have been on to of this before busses even departed!
We faced similar issues with our kids in their last year in the PSS. Administrators would not share any information with us as parents to “protect the youth offender”. Really? What the hell is that? Make an example of the kid. That’s what they did when we were growing up and ya know what? It worked!
I think this is a very teachable moment. And, can make for a safer school environment if the school administration takes advantage of it. As I understand from your post, an informal network spread the word. School administration responded quickly. Students felt safe enough to spread the word to their parents. Hopefully the person who initiated this gets caught and is held accountable. This is exactly how It should work. Hopefully, school administration will use this to schedule a parent meeting and lay out a non- threatening, speedy, process when, not if, this happens again. Everyone, especially students, should feel very comfortable in In this process. When trouble making students feel emboldened to threaten violence in the school, as a “fun game, And know they can get away with it, these events occur more frequently. It’s the modern day version of pulling the fire alarm.
OK, so to recap. I see suggestions for solid parenting, making sure we have officers at our schools who are actually willing to engage when there is trouble. Not like what happened in California. Concerns over technology, actually addressing issues with students when they happen so that there is a record and some way to show behavior tendencies, and a heck of a lot more. So do you see why this is an issue we can’t just let all of this be hashed out in Washington and via the press?
We have to get involved.
And what better reason than this. To keep our children safe.
So how to start?
Here are some ideas, but you know your community better than anyone, so start where you feel it is most needed:
- Ask your school to hold a parent meeting detailing their plan for keeping kids safe.
- Talk to your kids about these issues. Technology, bullying, being aware of people and situations and then speaking up when they feel uncomfortable.
- Talk to your local law enforcement and ask them about their school safety plans.
- Start conversations and groups with other concerned parents.
- Write a letter to your State officials asking them to make keeping kids safe at school a priority.
I am not a politician and I never want to be one, but this issue is not a political one. There should not be sides. In fact, to get things accomplished old ideas of who can talk about this issue with authority need to get thrown away as the rubbish idea that way of thinking is.
We are all accountable right now, and there is no greater risk of failure than having to watch again and again another heartbroken parent burying their child.
So what ideas do you have, and what can you get started in your community?
Let’s Talk! And most importantly, let’s get to work. We are a nation of innovators, and we can do this.
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