I heard an enraging statistic over the radio this morning. We’re forty-six days into 2018 and there have been eighteen reported school shootings. The latest happened yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. An expelled nineteen-year-old student shot and killed seventeen students and faculty and injured fourteen others. It is one of the ten worst mass shootings in American history; the second worst school shooting next to Sandy Hook.
We live in dangerous times, no question about it, and there is certainly plenty of blame to go around. But I’m not going to speculate on who or what I think is responsible. Rather, my focus is on my children. As a parent of two public school students, I fear for their safety every day. There is some comfort knowing that there are safety measures in place to ensure they stay safe. And I’m sure a lot of parents before this massacre felt the same way. But we cannot afford to let our guard down. At the same time, we can’t keep our kids locked in their rooms because we’re afraid of what could happen to them. Yes, there are maniacs who commit murder for whatever reason. And yes, there is no predicting where and when the next one will strike. But we’re not addressing the situation by holing ourselves and our families in our houses. That’s giving these maniacs power they do not deserve. And who’s to say that harm has to come from people. A fire or natural disaster can just as easily rattle our sense of security.
No. The one way we can take power back from these external forces is to talk it out. Kids normally are going to have questions about what goes on in the world. Everyday questions like:
“Where do babies come from?”
“What makes rainbows?”
“Why do we fart?”
“Who is Malcolm X?”
Questions like that and some more serious like:
“Who is such and such person?”
“Why did this happen?”
“Are people going to be okay?”
Truth be told, there’s no real preparation for when kids ask those kind of questions. And it’s not like we can have an adult conversation about it, unless they’re teenagers. But it’s something we can’t ignore. Kids want to know everything about everything. Even the things that are unpleasant. So what my wife and I have decided to do with our children is to present the discussion on their level. Reassure them that they can come to us whenever they’re scared. And that they will be safe and protected.
Parkland is another wake-up call to our country. A wake-up call that says we need to be serious about making change. That it’s not to assign and shift blame, but rather focus on making our country safer. I worry about my children’s safety, but I can’t confine them to the house. Instead, I will instill faith that they are protected and that they can come to us whenever they feel scared. As a parent, it’s a step in the right direction.