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Keeping kids safe in schools – 8 things we can all do

Keeping kids safe in schools is up to all of us. Right now, too many adults are failing children. Too many leaders are failing children. We have to turn this around, and we need to do it now. No more excuses. No more political shenanigans. Keeping kids safe in schools should not be political. Let’s end the logjam and fix, or at least try to fix, gun violence in our schools and communities.

While gun violence is happening all around us, the main focus of this post is the kind happening in our schools.

Not even trying to fix this is a colossal failure, a despicable dereliction of our duty as adults to safeguard the most vulnerable — our children. Clearly, what we’re doing isn’t working.

Fourth grade is a magical grade. Of course, so is first grade. High school is supposed to be as well. Childhood is supposed to be free from certain worries. Children should not be worrying about getting shot while at school. Children should not get dropped off at school in the morning and be dead later that same afternoon.

Mr. Rogers used to say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Yes, look for the helpers. Fourth graders at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, did exactly that. A couple even called 911 on their cell phones. They looked for the helpers. The helpers didn’t come. Not in time anyway.

Imagine that horror. Imagine that fear. Now imagine it as a ten-year-old child.

Ever since the Ulvalde school shooting, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do, what I can say, what I can write, what I can do to help make the killing of innocent school children stop.

This blog is my platform, so I will use it to try to move the needle even a smidgeon.

I don’t want to debate the 2nd Amendment or anyone’s right to buy any particular weapon. I don’t want to debate anything. Not today. For the record, I am not anti gun. I am anti gun violence. This post is about grief and loss and not becoming numb. It’s about advocacy. Mostly, it’s about keeping children safe, or at least safer, in schools.

Right now, we need to figure out things we can agree on — things we can do. And then, we need to do those things.

As an educator, I empathize with the teachers who we’ve somehow put in impossible situations too many times.

I am sickened that teachers are dying while trying to shield students from bullets. Let that sink in. Teachers are dying because they’re using their bodies to protect their students from being gunned down.

When I was in the classroom, my #one priority was keeping my students safe. Always. Above everything else.

If I were teaching today, I would shield students too. It’s a given. Teachers understand this on a deep level. Every teacher takes this responsibility seriously, and I have no doubt, that nearly every teacher across the country would sacrifice her/his own life to keep their students safe.

As a mother and new grandma, I am horrified.

I am horrified whenever I hear about a child being caught in gunfire at school or anywhere. No mother (or anyone) should have to experience this horrendous grief.

When I hear someone on TV saying, “I just can’t imagine…” it makes me cringe. (And yes, I’ve said this too and intend to stop.)

Imagine it. Don’t say you can’t. By the way, it’s the same with cancer. Or loss. If you tell someone you can’t imagine what they’re going through, it isn’t helpful. It’s like you’re separating yourself or putting a wall up dividing you from them — or from something awful you think could never happen to you.

But, guess what?

It could happen. It can. And sometimes, it does. So, imagine it!

Maybe that’s part of the problem. We are unwilling to imagine ourselves in those parents’ shoes.

Do it. Imagine it.

As a human being, my heart aches when I hear about school shootings.

I think about the moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, surviving classmates, teachers, aides, janitors, cooks, bus drivers, nurses, doctors, first responders, police men and women, and all who are forever changed by these tragic shootings and who will grieve and carry that trauma forever. The survivors and helpers of that day carry deep wounds that will never completely heal.

Talk about a ripple effect.

As an American, I’m outraged and appalled.

Why is this happening in my country, and why have other countries stepped up and taken reasonable steps to try to stop gun violence in schools and elsewhere?

Why can’t America do more to protect kids in schools?

I feel let down by my elected officials and leaders. But maybe I bear some responsibility in our failure too; maybe we all do. Perhaps we’ve become numb. Perhaps we’ve all been too quiet for too long.

As an advocate, I am riled up.

We can’t give up.

We must remain hopeful that change can happen, that leaders can come together and do things — the things that are needed most.

But hope isn’t enough. It rarely is, if ever.

Thoughts and prayers are nice, but that’s it. Nice doesn’t cut it. Hoping things will change is not enough. Hope will not save our children. Numbness, despair, and giving up will not save our children either.

What might?

Action. Yours and mine.

So what can you and I do?

8 SIMPLE things any of us can do to help keep kids safe in school:

(Be sure to add your suggestions in the comments at the end of this post.)

1. Sign the Sandy Hook Promise Petition.

2. Support (with your time, social media shares, and/or dollars) organizations that are working to end gun violence in our schools (and elsewhere).

A few of them are:

Moms Demand Action.

Everytown for gun safety

March for Our Lives.

Giffords

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

The Brady Campaign

3. Start conversations (not debates or lectures) with an open mind and willingness to listen.

Simply start by asking, what do you think we can do to try to make kids safer in school? Listen, then offer and/or together come up with suggestions for things you can agree on.

Then, do what you can to see that those things get done.

4. Support teachers locally and beyond.

Stand up for them when you hear unjustified criticism. Support local referendums. Support reasonable ideas for more school security — arming teachers is not one of them.

5. Vote in every election and encourage others to do the same.

Help folks register. Make phone calls. Give rides. Knock on doors. Whatever it takes. If your elected officials do not try to do something to keep kids safer in schools, vote them out.

6. Contact your senators and representatives. Send emails and texts and make those phone calls. Tell them to DO something and be specific about YOU want done.

I have the free “Causes” app on my phone, which is handy and super easy to use.

7. Participate in a march or other form of activism, if you are comfortable doing that.

8. Share this post on social media or wherever. Share writings of other folks who are trying to move the needle too. Use the hashtags below.

As many have said, enough is enough.

Keeping kids safe in schools is up to all of us. Let’s do this together.

No politics. (I can dream)

Instead, let’s be the helpers our children are looking for and deserve.

You might want to read, Thoughts & Prayers Are Not Enough and/or a piece I wrote after Sandy Hook: The Newtown, CT Shooting — the Losses Have Become Too Great to Bear

Thank you for sharing this post wherever you see fit!

#EndGunViolence

#DontLookAway

#EnoughIsEnough

What ideas do you have for helping to keep our kids safe in schools?

Do you think this time is different and that something meaningful will get done?

Have you lost someone to gun violence?

Keeping kids safe in schools is up to all of us. #endgunviolence #advocacy #keepkidssafe #sensiblegunreform #grief #loss

Elizabeth MacKenzie

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Thanks for writing this, Nancy.

Nancy

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Elizabeth, I had to. As a mother, new grandma and educator, I'm horrified and angry. Hoping something can get done this time.

Lindsay

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

I say "can't imagine" all the time so I will rephrase that and try to imagine.

Waiting for someone to say, "stick to your topic" as though this is not about grief.

Nancy

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Lindsay, I say that sometimes too, and I'm really going to try to stop saying it. About a lot of things, but especially about this. I'm so mad that kids keep dying from gun violence while at school. And teachers. I think being a new grandma makes me even madder. And yeah, I'm waiting for someone to say, stay in my lane too. As far as I'm concerned, this is very much my lane. It's everyone's lane. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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