Fifth Grader Vows To 'Protect His Friends' During Active Shooter Drill

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Tanai Benard

This fifth grader volunteering to protect his friends will break your heart

Kids today have a lot of the same worries we did as children — homework, grades, fitting in, making friends. But there is an entire other level to being at school for them; namely, is someone going to come into their school with the intention of shooting as many people as they can.

Mother Tanai Benard understands just how much her children are going through and decided to talk with her son, Dez, about the lockdown drill process at his school. A conversation most of us have, unfortunately, had many times with our own kids.

“My 5th grader and I were conversing on the way to work/school this morning. As an educator, I wanted to be sure he and his classmates were taking the school safety drills seriously and not using it as a time to socialize and goof off,” Bernard wrote on her Facebook page.

When she asked her fifth grader if they practiced these at school her son responded, “You mean an active shooter drill?” He told her he had and she asked him to explain the process to her.

“The teacher is suppose to shut and lock the door, put the black paper over the window on the door. Then myself and three other boys are suppose to push the table against the door,” he said. “After that all the class is going to stand behind us on the back wall.”

Understandably, Benard thought she’d misunderstood her son.

“The class is suppose to stand behind who?” she questioned. “Me and the other 3 boys. We stand at the front and they get behind us,” he responded.

The mother of three said was immediately overwhelmed with emotion and, rightly, concerned it may be something to do with being “one of only 2 black children in a class of 23.”

“Why did you get picked to stand in front of everyone else if a shooter came in your school?” she asked. “I didn’t get picked,” he explained. “I volunteered to push the table and protect my friends.”

Benard was stunned and experienced “immediate nausea.” She asked Dez why he would volunteer to stand in front of his classmates if someone was threatening them with a gun.

“If it came down to it I would rather be the one that died protecting my friends then have an entire class die and I be the only one that lived.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

This child with his whole life in front of him would rather die than not stand up and protect his friends from harm. This is what our children are forced to think about now. Parents are continuously having conversations about exactly what their children should do in the event of an active shooter in their schools. Our teachers are burdened with practicing drills when they should be teaching.

And our kids go to bed at night wondering what will happen if a person with an assault rifle enters their place of education.

Benard told Scary Mommy these discussions, while difficult, are absolutely necessary. “We do not live in a time where we can avoid the tough conversations that affect our children in hopes that it will eventually autocorrect and disappear,” she said. “We can no longer say that it will never happen in my city or school. Just as we once only had to discuss puberty, avoiding talking to strangers, and the birds and the bees, we now have to discuss the ‘in case’ of situations like active shooters in our schools, malls, movies and places of worship.”

“10 damn years old and this has to be our babies thought process in America.”

We are being conditioned to think this is normal. This should never, ever feel normal.

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