Have you ever participated in an intruder drill with 5 and 6 year olds? Developmentally, children this age are learning to distinguish between fantasy and reality. They may be very clear about what is real in some instances, pretend in various situations and engage in magical thinking in other situations. In fact, dramatic play along with stepping in and out of reality is a significant piece of this developmental level. (Ages & Stages: How Children Use Magical Thinking)
In my experience, schools do the best job they can to prepare students for this type of drill. There is discussion prior that it is a drill (much like fire or tornado drills); to help us all know what to do in case. A lot of care and support goes into the preparation of students for this type of drill. A balance of taking it seriously vs. the sensitivity required to meet student's emotional needs as they arise. However, it is a tough distinction to make when trying to compare this type of drill to natural disasters. As a parent of a child who has had intruder drills throughout elementary school, it is intimidating and scary to many children.
As you "grapple" with your position and the unthinkable tragedies that have touched our schools in 2018, Please think about the youngest children in our systems.
Some perspective: Firearm attacks during 2018 (CNN):
March 7: Birmingham, Alabama
One student was killed and another critically wounded after an accidental shooting during dismissal time at Huffman High School. Police wouldn't elaborate further on how the incident.
March 7: Jackson, Mississippi
A student was shot inside a dormitory at Jackson State University. His injuries were not life-threatening.
March 2: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Two people were shot to death at a dormitory on the campus of Central Michigan University. The victims are not students and police think the incident stemmed from a domestic situation.
February 27: Norfolk, Virginia
A student at Norfolk State University was shot from an adjacent dorm room while he was doing homework. He was not seriously injured.
February 27: Itta Bena, Mississippi
A person was shot in a rec center at Mississippi Valley State University. Police said the person was not a student and the injury was not life-threatening.
February 24: Savannah, Georgia
A person was shot on the campus of Savannah State University and taken to a nearby hospital where he later died. Neither the victim nor the shooter were university students, the college said.
February 14: Parkland, Florida
A 19-year-old man gunned down students and staff with a rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, slaughtering at least 17 unsuspecting students and adults. The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, had once been expelled from the high school over disciplinary problems, officials said.
February 9: Nashville
A high school student was shot five times in the parking lot of Pearl-Cohn High School.
February 5: Oxon Hill, Maryland
A high school student was shot in the parking lot of Oxon Hill High. The victim was treated and later released. Police arrested two teens and said they are acquaintances of the victim.
February 1: Los Angeles
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head and a 15-year-old girl shot in the wrist at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, officials said. Two other students were grazed by bullets. A 12-year-old girl was booked for negligent discharge of a firearm in that shooting, which was considered "unintentional," the Los Angeles police said.
January 31: Philadelphia
A fight led to a shooting in the parking lot of Lincoln High School, fatally wounding a 32-year-old man.
January 23: Benton, Kentucky
A 15-year-old student shot 16 people -- killing two other 15-year-olds -- at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, authorities said. The student faces two charges of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault, authorities said.
January 22: Italy, Texas
A 15-year-old student was wounded in a shooting at a high school in Italy, Texas, authorities said. The suspect, a 15-year-old, was quickly apprehended.
January 20: Winston Salem, North Carolina
A Winston-Salem State University football player was shot to death at a campus party. Najee Ali Baker was killed on the campus of Wake Forest University.
I've yet to hear a proposal that advocates the ban of all guns. Yet, this is the assertion I seem to hear in response when the discussion of assault rifles is initiated. I can't imagine that we wouldn't agree that these types of weapons are powerful and designed to cause damage. This isn’t a debate about whether hunting is a sport. It’s also not a call to ban all guns. What it is... a plea for responsibility and the promise to our kids that they are seen, heard and matter. It is recognizing that this is the moment we act to preserve our future.