It’s been a week since the shooting at the elementary school. It’s been a long week.
Last Friday I felt paralyzed in horror as the information unfolded. I am no less horrified by what happened today.
I taught kindergarten and first grade for years and I was an administrator at an elementary school for a few years. In my classrooms were cabinets like the ones described…the ones the first grade teacher had her students climb in to protect them. Connecting doors between classrooms…designed to encourage collaboration and to encourage safety, but what became easy access last Friday to move quickly from room to room violating the sanctity of life.
The names of the little ones, even today in my teacher’s classrooms we have precious ones with the same names. I spent Monday morning with a sobbing parent who has a son, the same age, with one of the names, beside herself with grief and wrecked by fears of “what ifs.” I have spent numerous hours talking with parents and caregivers about how to help young children process what’s happened, and better yet, how to handle the media’s never-ending coverage of it.
The administrative team has discussed over and over ways to bolter security and how to ensure the safety of all the children in our care. Arrival and dismissal procedures have been scrutinized and ripped apart all week looking for something to fix to make sure nothing like that could happen here.
Yesterday a grandfather stopped by and wanted to know if we would consider letting our teachers carry concealed (legal) handguns to protect themselves and the students. His argument was passionate. His argument was driven by very real fear and concern.
Because we all know the reality, even if we refuse to face it, much less voice it:
If someone is determined to kill, he/she will find a way to accomplish it. We’ve seen it happen over and over again.
We are so far from the times when schools, and elementary schools especially, were considered safe havens for children and families, insulated from the senseless violence and tragedy of the outside worlds. When people and neighborhoods looked out for one another and took care of each other. Far removed from a time when people worried that Pac man and Mario brothers were too violent for children, when prime time television recognized that young children might be watching and scheduled shows/events accordingly during the early evening hours.
It’s a far different world now. That’s not meant as a statement of judgment at all because I am the least qualified to make one. Nor am I saying it’s better or worse either, just very different.
I’ve been aghast at some of the arguments that have come out over the past week. It’s easy to deflect attention and throw blame around, much easier than weeding through it all and looking for the root issue and facing that issue head on. I’m guilty of doing it too, all the time. I’m not saying the peripheral issues are not important either, just that it may be important to keep in mind that they are symptomatic of a deeper issue that needs to be addressed as well.