To My Kids, As I Send You Off to School the Day After a School Shooting

Dear Kids,

I do not want to write this letter. But as a parent, I do a LOT of things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to talk to you about this just like I didn’t want to talk to you about sex. Because, I want you to be able to remain innocent. I don’t want you to have to know about grown-up things. I wish you did not have to know what kind of world you live in.

But, yesterday there was another school shooting.

You go to school. You have lockdown drills. And though it is unimaginable to me that you may one day face a school shooting, I realize that I would not do you ANY favors to keep silent about that possibility.

The first school shooting I can really recall is the one at Columbine High School in Colorado, in 1999. It was AWFUL and SHOCKING. (I also vaguely remember a smaller one in 1998, that I paid little attention to.) I was in college, out of high school for nearly three years already. That’s right, the WHOLE time I was in elementary and high school, I don’t remember ONE single school shooting occurring. The whole time YOU kids have been in school (none of you even in high school yet!), there have been several EACH YEAR.

There have been many days since you kids have been in school, that I have been terrified to send you off to school because of a recent school shooting. Today is one of those days. Another such day was December 15, 2012, the day after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty — TWENTY — first graders and six educators lost their lives that day. I had a kindergartener at the time, you, Sophie, 6 years old, the same age as many of those killed. Your classroom was way back in the building, so far from the door, which relieved me some. I was more terrified to send you off that day, though, Joshua, because you were in 3rd grade and your classroom was IMMEDIATELY inside the school doors. First one anyone could access. I spent the next few school days in anxiety until I could pick you up. I knew that the first graders in Newtown lost their lives because their classrooms were the first ones the shooter could get to.

(Have you ever wondered why your school no longer uses your 3rd grade classroom as a classroom, Joshua? That is why, The Sandy Hook school shooting is exactly why.)

So, anyway. Maybe now you know why I worry so much. Why I freak a little at the park when I can’t see where you’re playing. As a parent, I deal with more scary situations than my own parents ever faced. In the almost 22 years since I’ve left high school, it seems we’ve had five centuries worth of evil creep in to our world.

Here’s what I want you to know if a school shooting ever happens at your school:

First, if you are in a classroom with your teacher, follow his or her instructions immediately. Don’t THINK, just do. Train yourself to ACT QUICKLY when your teacher is commanding you. They have been trained for these situations and their instructions are your first line of defense.

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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