Sunday night we were at the kitchen counter and my boys said something to the effect “I wish we could blow up the school.” I stopped. It was typical school-age conversation. If there’s no school they can stay home and play all day right? This was their logic.
I was immediately taken to Columbine, Jonesboro, even Virginia Tech. What came out of my mouth was a stern but caring “We don’t joke about that.” Kind of like you don’t joke about firearms and terrorist activities standing in line at the airport, you don’t joke about guns, bombs or other activities of that nature in relation to school. It’s not funny.
So imagine how my heart sunk to hear about the shooting at Chardon, less than an hour from my home. It happened less then 24 hours after the discussion of /why/ we don’t joke about guns or bombs at school. Sitting around the kitchen island I had looked my 3rd grader in the eye and said “It has happened. Children have brought guns to school and accidentally or on purpose killed other students.” He understood. Yet, after hearing about Chardon I was thinking we needed to take this conversation a step further.
Have you had this discussion with your school-aged child? It can be a very non-threatening but helpful discussion.
First of all, speaking to your student, “Has your school practiced going into a lock-down?” In today’s age they probably have. Ask them what they do? How did they feel? Find out more for yourself too when you have time. How does the school notify you if there is an emergency of this nature. Our school district has a robo-call that calls everyone and they do a test call at the beginning of the school year. Make sure the school district has the number you need to be reached in case of an emergency. If you have just PCSed into the area make sure you are automatically added to the emergency notification system.
Secondly, what would they do if they saw a friend or a fellow student with a gun, in their backpack, in their sweatshirt, showing it off to another student? Would they try to get a closer look (maybe a natural instinct) or would they find the nearest teacher / adult (a much safer and smarter decision)? An honest conversation will get them thinking. Plant that seed now!
My last quick thought. How do your children treat others that are different? I won’t let society take the blame for these shootings. I am not here to blame anyone. But anyone can feel bullied at some point in their life. Especially those that feel a little different. The Department of Defense did some great videos about bullying that I would highly recommend you watching, by yourself or with your children: Bullying and our Military Children
For the families dealing with their new grief in Chardon, I am so sorry. I went to sleep last night with tears in my eyes thinking about what these parents must have been feeling. I can’t begin to grapple with the emotion of the families of the victims but even those families that were touched simply because their childeren go to the same school. I know their discussion is so much different then mine. I hope I never have to take this conversation about tragedy to the next level with my own children.
– Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com