I have been really vocal on twitter lately…questioning why we must “train” our children for active shooter drills in response to a tweet on twitter after the latest shooting in Denver where a student lost his life and 8 more injured.
I know that we often start talking tougher gun laws and reforming the mental health system…discussion shifts towards increasing school safety officers. All of these considerations are important. There is definitely not one answer to fix this problem.
However, we must not forget the emotional aftermath that happens. Not only to the victims, their families and the community. But to all of us. Because, life after is the same, but yet never the same.
We have become a society that reacts instead of prevents. We have somehow gotten to the point that we are “training our children” to be prepared if an active shooter comes into the school.
And we do it again and again and again.
As a behavioral pediatrician I cannot tell you how many children I see that suffer from anxiety, depression and trauma. Not just from the horrific incidents themselves, but because we as a society cannot come together to solve this public health crisis.
And because of this, it continues to happen, and is happening too often.
And because of this, rather than feeling safe and being in school to learn, navigate friendships and play at recess, our children must train to be quiet, cover windows, learn to crouch down and not cry for fear of giving away their position, to barricade doors, and if they are trapped in the restroom they must learn to stand on toilet seats so the shooter cannot see their feet.
I saw a patient just this week who had anxiety and during our visit, he recounted the last active shooter drill at school. He reported hearing screaming and yelling, banging outside their classrooms: “I see the lights on! I know you’re in there!”
Enough is enough.
Shootings happen in our churches, our theaters, our hotels and concert venues, in our schools, in our community centers, in our night clubs and on our college campuses.
We have learned and are teaching our children that it can happen anywhere. There have been 15 school shootings in the US so far THIS YEAR. Here is a list of them so we don’t forget that every shooting has resulted in families and communities torn apart by senseless violence.
We must put a stop to this and demand strong legal action to keep our communities safe, to prevent traumatizing our children. Yes, we must also rebuild our mental health system. As a society, we must do all this and more to prevent adverse childhood experiences or ACES.
This is my lane, but it is YOURS too. Legal inaction hurts ALL OF US.
Please, do not leave before watching the video below. It will make you tear up as you realize just how far we have allowed this to go on.
I ask, why can’t kids just be kids?
It takes a village to raise healthy and resilient children. We must stand together and remember that there has to be a different way. A better way for our children. #PreventACEs
To read more about this particular topic, please visit The Relentless School Nurse blog.
Inspired to Take Action? Here are some organizations to know about.
You can always call your federal and state legislators and share your thoughts.
Go to USA.GOV