I saw a post on Facebook recently about a mom who made a tee shirt she wore to drop her kids off at school on their first day. The shirt said, “A teacher’s commitment to a child’s learning should equal your commitment as a parent.”
I loved this shirt and would suggest that in fact our commitment as a parent needs to not only equal, but exceed the commitment of our child’s teacher. This commitment is something I would like to delve into a little more today, and on a very scary subject. Here at JENerally Informed delving into the “real” is not something I have every shied away from. Especially when it is important, and there is nothing more important to me than my children and children in general.
This last week my oldest daughter attended an active shooter training course for her work place. She works for a City entity and they were training all of their employees. The Police Department led the training, and she was really impressed. She came home and talked to her father and I about it. As we talked I realized that I had not been doing enough on my end to prepare my children for the world they live in. I am not going all political here, but there are some conversations that we as parents really should be having with our children. I am holding off on a full briefing with my youngest who is a 1st grader, but my 6th grade daughter and high schoolers are now involved in these conversations in a new and different way, and I feel good about it.
It’s time to empower our children with some knowledge that might help to keep them safe. Here are some thought starters to help as you broach this subject with your own children.
One of the things which very profoundly affected me from what my daughter shared from her training was the idea of teaching our children three VERY important things. We have all been taught in the case of a fire to Stop, Drop and Roll, but what about in an active shooter scenario? All we teach our children right now is to hide under their desks or in a corner and to be very quiet. The police officer who led the active shooter training encouraged people to always be thinking and doing one of the three following things:
Run, Hide, Fight.
If you can run, always run.
If you can safely hide, hide.
But remember that sometimes just hiding isn’t enough. You might be OK to hide for a bit, but then you will need to run again to get to someplace safe.
By repeating the mantra and working through options in your mind like; Where can I run to? Where can I hide? Can I break a window and climb out to safety? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then do it. In situations like this thinking about where you can run and hide just might save your life. Our children need to be taught this.
Now let’s talk about the fight part. This is the scariest.
The police officer who led the training talked about the Virginia Tech shooting and how they all sat there in the room just like lambs waiting to see what would happen, and the shooter took full advantage of their immobility.
If you can throw a chair, a book, a desk or distract the shooter even if for just a moment so that you and others can run and hide, then DO IT!
Not everyone is going to have the fight instinct in them. I get it, and I am not even remotely suggesting that my sweet and innocent 6 year old would be able to think that fast on her feet to fight someone much older than her trying to do her harm in that way.
But my middle school and high school aged children live in a world where having that type of training just might save their life.They might be in a position to throw that chair or desk and could distract the shooter enough to run to safety. I am not asking them to be a hero, just to look at the possibilities.
Run, Hide, Fight.
Pick which one you can do and then follow through with it.
A few years ago my husband took a special self defense course from a very skilled (and slightly scary) instructor who had decades of training in some pretty elite situations. He told my husband that in situations like an active shooter there are three types of people; lambs, dogs, and wolves.
A lamb is someone who will not be able to defend themselves and will need help to run to safety. This is the group I place my youngest 6 year old in. What I have told her as she has practiced lock-down drills at school is to listen to her teacher and pay attention to the directions she is given from trusted adults.
You all remember Mr. Rogers saying in scary situations to look for the helpers. For now, that is what I have told her to do. Look for the helpers. I will continue with these types of discussions at home until she is old enough for the other, more detailed discussion.
Now let’s talk about that dog or helper group. These are the people who will be able to lead the sheep to safety. They are the ones who will be thinking through is it safe to run? Where can I hide? Can we build a chain to climb out that window? Can we barricade the door? What can I do to get myself and others to safety? If you are pretty sure you are going to be in the helper/dog group, just know that people will follow you, and I say bless you for your willingness to take on that role. Some possibly unexpected people might be the ones who end up doing this.
So now who are the wolves? They are the ones who will be the fighters. The ones to throw the chair, desk or look for a way to take the shooter down. I am not ever going to encourage my children to look to be a wolf. That is why we have law enforcement, but they might have a split second where they could do something that could distract the shooter enough that would allow them to get themselves and others out and running to safety.
I would encourage you to think and talk through all of this with your children. Our society has some really broken elements, and this is one that I wish we could shield our children from, but we can’t. People who are hurting will hurt others.
I hope and pray that my children will never have to face the reality of an active shooter situation, but I also hope that my attempt(s) to actively help them think through some possibilities before fear immobilizes them might mean they come out safe and unharmed, and maybe help others along the way.
Thanks for stopping in and I would love to hear how you are doing this in your own families.