See something, say something, should be the mantra. It’s not perfect but it’s the best strategy we’ve got right now.
You wrote about your fears, but let me tell you about another mother.
Last December, a youth in Richmond, Indiana, took his mother’s boyfriend hostage and forced him to drive to the middle school the young man attended where he intended to carry out a mass shooting.
The mother pleaded with her son not to go through with it but he was determined.
So the mother called 911 with a warning.
The school was alerted, the staff paid attention and put the school on lockdown. The first police officers arrived at the school almost at the same time the young man arrived.
The youth shot his way into the school and fired at police, though he did not hit anyone.
Once inside the school and with more police arriving, he knew he had been stopped. Rather than surrender, he killed himself.
It was 12 days before Christmas.
What do you say to a mother who did the right thing and it ended with the death of her child?
I can think of a million things I would rather be than the officer who had to deliver the news.
While it is always good to be as prepared as possible, it’s not so good if you let the fear rule your life. More importantly, it’s even more important that you not allow the fear to rule your children’s lives.
Because you can do things. Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your child is learn as much as you can about the real risks because they are exceedingly small.
Despite the scary numbers put out by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, real school shootings are still very rare. In 2018, a total of 41 students, all in high schools, died in school shootings. This includes suicides, gang violence, drug deals, incidents that happened when school wasn’t even in session.
According to FBI estimates, an average of 450 children are murdered by their own parents every year.
People need to understand that schools go on lockdown for a variety of reasons. Unrelated police activity in the area and threats are far more common triggers than active shooter incidents. Perhaps it might help if school administrators informed teachers of the reason for the lockdown to allow them to let their students know if there is an actual threat to student safety.
But perhaps more examples of “see something, say something” in action is what’s really needed. Encourage young people to play an active part in preventing violence in schools. Understanding that they have some measure of control can reduce anxiety.
Encourage parents to make sure firearms are securely stored. Suggest that gun owners visit the Project ChildSafe website to learn where they can get a free safety kit that includes a gun lock.
Ever since the massive screwup that enabled Nikolas Cruz to carry out the Parkland shooting, law enforcement agencies have become hyper-vigilant. The FBI has overhauled its system for processing tips.
We can do a lot more than huddle in fear. We not only have assets, we are assets.