That kindergarteners even have to think about lockdown drills is incomprehensible
It’s impossible to be a parent or guardian of a school-aged child and not think about the likelihood of a school shooting. In an age where school shootings victims now outnumber those killed in our military, it’s a reality all of us must come to terms with. But when one mom saw a poster hanging on her soon-to-be-kindergartener’s classroom chalkboard, it hit home just how far we’ve fallen as a nation.
Mom Georgy Cohen from Somerville, Mass. walked into her child’s classroom, she saw a sign telling the kids what to do during an active shooter situation.
Reading it is chilling enough — now read it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
“This should not be hanging in my soon-to-be-kindergartener’s classroom,” Cohen wrote. And while this should never be a thought in a child, teacher, or parent’s minds, unfortunately it’s the reality we live in.
There have been 23 school shootings in the U.S. this year where someone has been hurt or killed, CNN reports. That’s more than one per week. And while not all of these shootings resemble those in Santa Fe, Texas or Parkland, Florida, every single incident involving a gun in an environment where children are learning is tragic.
Most schools have some kind of education centering around classroom safety during an active shooter situation. According to Education Week, during the 2013-14 school year “70 percent of public schools drilled students on how to respond to a school shooting, including 71 percent of elementary schools.”
For parents, classroom safety relating to gun violence comes to us in all directions: lockdown drills at schools, legislation for arming our teachers, or the constant reminder our government is doing nothing to help the situation. It’s an overwhelming feeling — but something must be done.
In some school districts around the country, Education Week says they’ve “replaced traditional lockdown drills with multi-option response drills, which teach them a variety of ways to respond and escape.” Drills like ALICE — an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — are used in 4,000 school districts nationwide. ALICE was developed by former police officer Greg Crane and his wife, Lisa Crane, a former school principal, after the tragedy at Columbine High School. “A lockdown makes sense when the danger is outside of the school,” Crane tells Scary Mommy. “But when a shooter is in your school, he has control as soon as the building is locked down.”
Steve Brock, a professor of school psychology at California State University, Sacramento, tells Education Week that even during a lockdown drill, it’s not necessary to “unnecessarily frighten” students, especially ones who are very young. “When it comes to these kinds of activities, schools need to proceed cautiously,” he said. Which is perhaps the rationale behind the poster above — while it’s heart-wrenching, no doubt — that it’s set to the tune of a song kids are very familiar with may help lessen the fear.
When it comes to parenting kindergarteners, we have to prepare them for things like riding a school bus for the first time or standing in line for school lunch. But now we also have to help normalize these drills — because the harsh reality is that these drills could eventually save their lives.