Recently, my husband and I were on a short day trip away from home. I received a call from my daughter’s school, but I was navigating in the vehicle and let the call go to voicemail. I never thought it was anything other than an announcement about pictures or news about an upcoming sale or fundraiser. Little did I know… About an hour away from home, I called my youngest to see how things were going. We had ordered a pizza for her from his phone (what a time to be alive) and were checking in to make sure it arrived and everything was correct etc. What I heard next chilled me to the bone.
“Mom, there’s a whole thing going on with social media saying there’s a threat and that someone is going to come to the school tomorrow with a gun and shoot people.” Just terror, blood running cold, chills, shaking, tears; so many emotions all at once. Then, I remembered the voice mail. I told my daughter I would call her back and hung up. I listened to the phone call and it went into detail about an active threat that was being assessed, however, they felt it was not a danger to the school and for parents not to worry, police involved, school opening as scheduled etc.
When you go to Back to School night, there is a part of it that has to do with hearing the talk about ALICE training. What a joy to hear about all the ways the school is going to teach your child how not to die if a shooter comes in. I’m not trying to be sarcastic in any way, but it’s a real thing and something this generation, their teachers, their schools, campuses and workplaces will have to deal with in this “era of how things are with guns” (being nice). So, what is ALICE ™?
While it is difficult to deal with the existence of this protocol, I sadly recognize that it is necessary. When you are sitting there in the audience, they are telling you that this protocol helps save more lives compared with lockdown only. You are sitting there, thinking about your child in an active shooter situation and you almost tune out what they are saying. Then, you get emails and phone calls throughout the year letting you know about drills and training that will be going on certain days and you wonder, how is this affecting my child?
Then, that evening, after arriving home and talking about their being no way I was going to let her go to school, my daughter came to me and said that she really wanted to go. The police released a statement saying the threat was unsubstantiated. That was supposed to make me feel better, so I VERY reluctantly agreed to let her go to school. At the end of the evening, I was heading up to bed when I heard her talking on the phone to someone. I wasn’t trying to listen, but when I walked past I heard, “Well, if they show up in [class name], at least we’ll die together”. It still makes me want to vomit. She wasn’t laughing about it, nor was she crying. To me, it’s the fact that she SAID IT. This is their world now.
Hell no I didn’t sleep well that night. I kept dreaming of guns and screaming and the stomping of running feet. [Yay anxiety disorder] I have no clue how to process what she said. I didn’t address it, because I didn’t want her to think that I was listening. I did talk to her about what happened though and how she felt. I found out the kid who made the threat was in one of her classes and he was not in school that day. The school can’t release any personal information about who it was, but kids talk. There hasn’t been another word since the voice mail.
My child’s school experienced a school shooting several years ago. In order to protect our identity, let’s just say no one died, but it was horrible for the family and the community. You don’t forget what happened and you think about the pictures on the news that day, you can still hear the helicopters hovering above.
It all makes me so angry and mad because this is something that I don’t believe will stop. If it didn’t stop after Columbine, if it didn’t stop after Sandy Hook, I just don’t see it stopping. It’s a terrible thought, depressing and terrifying, but while I believe that the training in the schools has to be done, it’s what’s being done outside of the schools that has to change. We need REAL change. We need families who are there for their children, available therapy and REAL help for families in crisis. We need actual LEADERS who do something about it, who make it a priority. Not make a slogan at the beginning of an administration called Be Best that is supposed to change the face of bullying and then you never hear about it again. We need action, direction, hope and true change. Sigh.
If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s very difficult to watch, but it’s worth watching. Very graphic imagery and theme, so please use discretion around children or sensitive individuals.