On April 20, 1999, I was a high school student who watched as Columbine happened on the news in front of me. Two high school students walked into their high school and opened fire on their fellow classmates and teachers. That was the day whatever illusion of safety we felt we had as a country, no longer existed. Basically, no place could be considered safe anymore after that day. About a month after that incident, we were no longer allowed to carry backpacks that weren't clear, certain articles of clothing could no longer be worn, and even joking about a threat to another student could end in your suspension or expulsion from school. In subsequent years, there were office shootings, and church shootings, and mall shootings, and movie theater shootings, and bombings at marathons, and planes crashing into buildings, and the list goes on.
It is now 2022 and my nephew in kindergarten is as terrified as I was in 1999, because he experienced his first lock down drill. If you don't know what one is,
-Doors to classrooms are closed and locked.
-Students are moved to the safest part of the room, away from windows and doors, to the interior walls.
-Everyone drops to the floor or out of the line of vision from the door.
-Window shades are pulled down.
-Any windows in doors are covered (to prevent an intruder from seeing into the room).
-Classroom lights are turned off.
Imagine being the adult in a classroom with bouncing happy 5 and 6 year old children and explaining to them that they must now do this drill because someone may try to come in a hurt other people including them, so they must now be trained at 5! on how to try and protect themselves from harm should that happen. Imagine being my brother and sister in law having to also have that conversation with your son especially now after the trauma of dealing with Covid and lockdowns and school closing. It just sucks that we've prioritized guns and gun rights over all as a country because this is a side effect. We don't prioritize mental health care, we don't take away guns, we don't have stricter laws for guns, and now a 5 year old is living in fear.
Do I think this type of training is needed. Sadly, yes. Unfortunately, early studies have shown that the practice of doing these drills with young children can be traumatizing, but is there any other alternative at this point? The mental health status of people now is just far worse having dealt with Covid and many life altering events due to that and everything else. Do we have a choice to make this optional anymore when incidents of active shooters keep happening in schools and malls and places of business?