• Today is: Sunday, January 19, 2020
  • Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan Reply
    3 months ago

    When my son was in fifth grade son he hopped off the bus and told me “During a lockdown drill, our teacher told us we all had to hide behind his desk. He keeps his desk in the corner so you can’t see it from the door. We hide behind it in lines, front row, middle row, back row. But my friend was last and we realized we couldn’t fit any more kids back there. I stared at him and thought about what would happen if it was a real shooter. Would he be shot? I thought maybe I should give up my space for him. Should I, Mom?” he asked me.
    I didn’t know how to answer any of his questions.
    A year later, my third grader told me he couldn’t sleep.
    “My desk is right by the lockdown poster,” he said. “I’m scared thinking about when it will really happen.”

    One of the milestones of childhood is when a child learns how to play make-believe. How to pretend they are an astronaut, an explorer, a parent. Sometimes children have trouble distinguishing pretend from what’s real.
    And now, we are forcing kids to pretend there is a shooter in their school, coming to kill them.
    Lockdown drills force children to experience a similar level of stress and trauma as if they were in a real lockdown situation.
    Some people argue lockdown drills are just like fire drills. But they are not.
    School fires are incredibly rare. Kids in modern schools don’t die in fires. Why? Because of preventative safety measures. We don’t ask school children to fight fires themselves. We don’t tell children “Sorry, we aren’t willing to take action to prevent fires, so practice experiencing one in your classroom.”
    Lockdown drills are squeezing into hiding places and seeing there’s no room for your friend and wondering if you should give up your spot or let him die.
    Why do we tell our children, “practice hiding so you don’t get shot?”
    I kept my kids out of the lockdown drills this year. It took work. I sent emails, had phone calls with building principals, and coordinated schedules. I took one child to school late for five days, and sat with another in the parking lot during the drill.
    I was lucky to have the freedom to keep my kids out of these drills. I was also lucky the principals were forthcoming with the drill dates and times.
    So many people say “it’s so awful kids have to do these drills.”
    But they don’t have to.
    There are parents out there that don’t have the means to keep their kids out of drills. But every parent can do things that can make schools safer.
    Call your local, state, and federal officials. Ask them to support universal background checks. Talk to your friends and family about securing guns away from children.
    Drills will not save your child’s life. Demanding changes to our culture and to our laws will.

  • Melanie Austin, MD Reply
    3 months ago

    The AAP has been publishing articles for at least a year that all these type of drills do is increase the epidemic amounts of anxiety seen in elementary aged kids. If we really want to help kids and help them feel safe. We need to become communities that ask difficult questions of our kids friends parents, neighbors, and even family. “Do you have a gun? How is it stored? And how can we do better to make this a safer community for all our kids?”

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