Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sandy Hook Shootings and Our Schoolkids

It seems like the past week has been filled with so much, so fast, that I’m having a hard time sitting down today to blog. My mind is reeling. So I’m going to just talk about it all, all at once, and hope somewhere in there it all makes sense! 

Let’s start with Sandy Hook, since that’s what’s on everyone’s minds this morning. I’m sure you’ve already heard the story. A troubled young man stole his mother’s guns, killed her, then went to the school where she’d worked. At last count, 20 elementary students between the ages of 5 and 10 were dead. Parents and siblings throughout the county were mourning children who had barely had time to live. Teachers, the principal and a school psychologist lost their lives, and I still haven’t heard what happened to the heroic janitor credited with giving teachers the heads-up to stay in their rooms and out of the shooter’s way.

I haven’t sat down to discuss this incident with my kids yet. I want to. I need to. But I haven’t figured out how to say it. Here, in the bucolic town we call home, this kind of event is as foreign to them as a visit to an alien planet. But it’s not. We lived in VA when the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech happened-my brother-in-law and his wife were both students there at the time. I was across the street when the sniper shot a woman in the parking lot of a Michael’s in Fredericksburg, VA, and we’d been at the Ponderosa he hit by Richmond just a few nights before.

Random violence isn’t something you get used to, and I pray we never do. I’m not sure how to explain it to my kids without terrifying them. I can only hope that they learn to be careful, to be aware, to understand that there’s risk but they shouldn’t let it run their lives.

There was an interesting post this morning on my Facebook feed talking about letting some of our war veterans step in and act as armed security guards at schools across the nation. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. I love the idea of giving our soldiers jobs when they come home-with some additional training in dealing with kids, I think they’d be marvelous. And it would free up our LEOs for jobs elsewhere.

On the other hand, it makes me sad to think that it might be necessary. One of the biggest reasons we left the city and moved to a small town was so the kids could go to a good, safe school, with quality academics and no metal detectors coming in the doors. We had a “school cop” when I was in high school. He kept the brawls in the hallways to a minimum, took the time to take an interest in the kids at lunch, and did a hundred other things none of us delinquent teens knew anything about.

I do remember, very well, him giving me a hard time for being tardy when I stopped in to pick up some paperwork after graduation. (I graduated a semester early.) It was hilarious.

My point is, a single, good-natured officer roaming the hallways is very different from a gun toting, metal detector using guard. Because that’s what it would be. A guard. Protecting an area that needs to be protected, even though it shouldn’t. And…yeah. I got my kids out of the city just to get away from situations like this one, but I guess there really is no escaping it anywhere. So we may as well make the best of it, hug our children tight, and pray for those families who live in areas with so much violence that they take this kind of thing for granted.  

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