As I begin my day at work by reviewing the State Police training on active shooter drills, I cannot help but feel disheartened. The news in Florida last night is shocking and yet all too familiar.
For my entire career, I have worked in a school or school-adjacent environment. Over the last six years, I have received more active shooter and domestic terrorism training than my military friends…because I work in a school.
Each year, my colleagues and I are shot at with blank rounds from real guns or tennis balls from fake guns as we practice escaping one of these horrible attacks.
A few months ago, I did not practice escaping or escorting children from this type of situation. I was the parent of a child whose school was under the threat of this type of attack.
Thankfully, everyone ended up safe. This time, it was only a threat. I am beyond grateful that this was the outcome for our family. I am heartbroken for the families that experienced far more than the threat of this type of violence.
Each time one of these attacks occur, I struggle with how, if at all, to discuss this with my children. While I am mostly at a loss, I am certain of a few things. Although a bit dramatic, I cannot help but be reminded that, no matter their age, we cannot shield our children from the cruelty, injustice, or danger in this world. For this reason, we must speak openly with them and acknowledge these things.
Bigger (and smaller) than the gun lobby…
Bigger (and smaller) than mental health screening…
Bigger (and smaller) than your political position…
Bigger (and smaller) than your conflict with any one person on any one given day, is the importance of practicing respectful confrontation because we have to talk about this. Not talking about it isn’t working. If we stop talking to each other, even about the the things we disagree on, we will never reach the compromise we so desperately need.