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I've written and rewritten and deleted this post more times than I can count. I've tried to find the perfect words. Word to reassure all of the parents and friends in my personal facebook feed that they don't need to worry. Words to tell them that their children are ALWAYS safe at school or in public. But the truth is, I can't say that.
Evidence states the opposite. While there are debates going around the internet about HOW many school shootings there have been in 2018, one fact remains…..there have been too many. Because isn't ANY number too many?
I want to be very clear. I love my students and I love my job. I don't love the fact that it is even a question whether I would be able or willing to protect them in a school shooting situation. Because, I would. To the best of my ability. But you know what terrifies me? And what angers me? The fact that I should have to.
HOW IS THIS OK? As a mother, how am I supposed to be ok taking my own child to public places that may or may not be secure? As a teacher, how am I supposed to emotionally protect my students from the violence that is becoming more and more common (or to physically protect them for that matter)?
I'm scared. I'm angry. And I've had about enough. And I'm pretty sure you have too. Can I change government policy today? No. Can I change the world we live in today? No. But I can sure try.
I've been thinking a lot about what is happening to our children. WHY is this happening? I wish there was a simple solution or an easy answer. But I believe it's more complicated.
Are we really paying attention? Do we notice the children who don't get invited to playdates? Do we notice the birthday parties that no one attends (unless they're part of a viral social media post)? Do we notice the kids who are dropped off first and picked up last? Do we notice the kids who don't have snacks to eat? Do we notice the kids who look angry? Or do we brush them off as behavior issues or troubled children? Do we stop in the midst of our busy days, to just ask kids how they are? I mean how they REALLY are? And do we want to hear the answer?
There are forgotten children everywhere. And that breaks my heart.
We all need to ask more questions. To REALLY talk to our kids. To ask about their classmates. You know that kid always sitting by himself when you drop your child off at school? ASK HIM IF HE'S OK. Ask your child if he's like that everyday. Encourage your son or daughter to ask him to eat lunch with them.
Will asking these questions shift our culture in a day? Probably not. Will they prevent the next school shooting? I don't know. But I know they will create a sense of community that many of our children are lacking. And I pray that community will change our country. Our children deserve better. They deserve better from us. My students deserve better from us. My daughter deserves better from ME.
I beg you, spend a few minutes today asking your kids…..”Who ate lunch alone?” “Did anyone sit by themselves?” “How are YOU feeling today?” Those answers? May just save someone's life.