We've all asked the question. It seems to be everywhere. The stories are on every news station. Parents are worried. Kids are distraught. Which school will be the next target? It's anybody's guess when the next angry and disturbed kid with a grudge will snap and take out his(or her) rage on his peers and teachers. Having 4 kids in 3 different schools I understand the concern, I often think about the vulnerabilities when I walk through campus in the mornings dropping my kids off, and there are many. In our picture-perfect world around us we live oblivious to the dangers surrounding our every environment. We shrug off warning signs in other people as rude behavior or social awkwardness, that is if we even notice at all. We deem every store, gathering and institution we walk into as a safe place and we let our guards down. And we can afford this blissful ignorance because we have law enforcement to protect us, right?
History has shown that likely by the time the cops show up severe damage will have already occurred. How can our kids be protected if the unthinkable happens at their school? Some parents have resorted to buying their kids bulletproof backpacks to protect themselves with while at school. As this Fox News report stated, these backpacks may or may not be as effective against certain types of firearms or practical in different scenarios. So for parents looking to this as an answer and a potential safeguard for their children's safety, it could possibly ease the feeling of helplessness, but will it protect them from a bullet? Maybe. Help shield them from a knife? Probably.
A bulletproof backpack is an ok idea, but it is not the answer. A backpack alone isn't enough. As a consumer, shooter and a parent I can't help but feel that the manufacturers of these types of devices are exploiting people's fears and by doing so are giving them a false sense of security with a hefty price tag. In my opinion, one of the most practical things we can give our children (in terms of safety) is teaching them to be aware of their surroundings. As the great Jeff Cooper once said: "The essential thing is to bear always in mind that trouble can appear at any time. Be aware. Be ready. Be alert." Being vigilant, noticing if things are "off", having a plan that they can execute if an emergency occurs. We hear it a lot these days, but the phrase "See something, Say something" is invaluable in these situations where sometimes if only someone had spoken up tragedy might have been prevented. Unfortunately this is the reality we live in. It is pivotal that our kids can have an open discussion about it and create a plan. Not to create fear for them while they're at school, but rather to create some assurance knowing that they don't have to be helpless victims. It gives a sense of security knowing that when all hell breaks lose they can spring into action instead of freezing in fear and panic.
Some good talking points to have with your children:
- Identify all possible exits and know which one would be closest/accessible in an emergency
- Have a predetermined meeting place near school to meet mom/dad if necessary
- What would be some warning signs that we should tell an adult about?
- Know ahead of time what action to take if there is an alarm during class, recess, assembly, etc.
- See something, say something
Do you and your kids have a plan yet?