Did you know that since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week? Well, 10 days ago there was a mass shooting just miles from our home. 17 innocent lives were lost. You hear about things like this in the news all the time, but when it’s in your backyard, you can’t help but realize that it could have been your children.
Since the shooting, my social media feed has been full of political posts. One side, blaming the other for everything and anything they can. I’ve gotten into heated discussions with friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers over the situation because believe it or not, this is not about politics. This is about creating a safer place for our children. It’s time we stopped seeing each other as a political party and started coming together as a country to protect our kids and our teachers. Enough is enough.
After watching the news, I was completely inspired by the students, teachers and parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. While they are dealing with so much more than anyone should ever deal with, they have decided to channel their anger and fear and grief into a movement. They want to make a change and make sure that this never happens again. They are the reason that we need to do something. They are setting the example and it’s time we followed!
Why Should Our Teachers Live in Fear?
I have a lot of friends who are teachers. I admire each and every one of them. It’s not the most glamorous job and it won’t make you rich, but it gives you the ability to nurture, educate and play a pivotal role in a child’s life. When my friends started their teaching careers, I doubt any of them imagined that they would be discussing whether or not they should have a gun in their classroom or whether or not they would throw themselves in front of a group of children, to save them from a bullet. And why should they have to? Why should they have to fear for their lives and the lives of their students because we as a country can’t get our act together?
My friend Eden posted her feelings on Facebook the other day and I imagine that it’s what a lot of teachers are feeling right now.
“Here I am. Real and raw. No sleep last night. My mind won’t stop. As I write this I sit in the parking lot of the school I’m visiting today to see my students. The first day I will actually be face to face with my ‘kids’ since a school around the corner became the latest national tragedy. I’m scared. I’m distraught. No, I don’t teach at Douglas, but we are all Douglas. …I teach virtually… I visit my students multiple days a week, here in Broward, at their school. Days where I walk on and off campus alone, since some days I may not be there the full day. I’m scared. Your kids teachers are scared. Yes, we’ve drilled. Yes, we’ve prepared. But are we really ever prepared? Should I have to go to work with a lump in my throat? Should our kids have to know which closet will hold more of us? Should this have to be our new normal? What will I say to my ‘kids’? Yes, they are my ‘kids’, all 148 of them. What will they say to me? What questions will they ask? How will I answer?” – Eden Katz, Teacher
Like most teachers, would Eden do everything in her power to save her kids? Absolutely, I have no doubt that they would. Should they have to? Should any teacher have to give their lives and leave their own families behind because we as a society haven’t figured out how to keep these lunatics out of our schools?
School is supposed to be a safe place. When I drop my girls off at school each day, I used to feel confident. I knew they were going to see their friends and learn new things and would come home and tell me every detail about their day. But things are different. Our kids aren’t just learning math and science anymore. They’re learning what to do if a shooter enters the building. They are being taught how to hide under tables and what the safest evacuation route is, should they need to get out quickly. My 8 year old is going to school every day, wondering if there will be a drill or if she’ll have to put those new skills to use, in a real life experience. And all I can think about is, why is my 8 year old not running around on a playground, having fun, instead of fearing what could be?
For me, this isn’t a political debate. I don’t want to hear about how the other side is causing this. I don’t want to hear whose fault it is. I want us all to take a lesson from the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and do something about this, so that it doesn’t happen again. Instead of arguing about your political beliefs, find something in common and come up with a way that we can prevent this from ever happening to another child, another teacher, another school. See our government as a tool, not as an enemy. Use that tool to create change, no matter what party you are affiliated with.
So How Do We Make a Change?
That’s up to you. I recommend starting a conversation amongst your community, getting a group together and then reaching out to your local politicians. Visit your local schools and see what you can do, together. Talk to your kids. There is nothing more important than preparing them, without scaring them. Make sure they know that if they see or hear something, to say something… to a teacher, their principal and especially you. Getting into heated political debates on social media is not the answer. Instead, spend your time and energy really making a difference. Our kids deserve it. Our teachers deserve it. We deserve it.
*Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Heather is the Mom of three and a marketing professional. She enjoys graphic design, writing, photography and making new memories with her family.