If you’re like me, I was walking around in a bit of daze yesterday as the news started to trickle in. It’s hard to hear about another school shooting. It doesn’t matter where you live or how old your kids are, it makes your heart race and you just want to hold them.
I think what bothered me the most is that I immediately said out loud to a co-worker … “There is no safe place in this world anymore.” The movie theater … the school … the mall … is there anywhere that’s 100% safe? The answer of course is no, but it’s the world we live in, so we have to find a way to feel as safe as we can.
As a member of the Lucky Kat World team, we visit a lot of schools. There’s no particular pattern to the security we see. I live in a large suburb of Los Angeles and I can walk into my neighborhood elementary school by simply opening the door. The last time I was there, I could have wandered anywhere in the school that I wanted. I didn’t feel unsafe at all.
When I was visiting my hometown in Kansas, the school doors were locked and there was no way to get inside without an individual from the school personally opening the door for me. I had a meeting scheduled with the principal, but I still had to buzz the intercom and wait for an escort. I was accompanied to the office and did not feel I could have wandered the halls on my own. My first thought was …. Why the lock down in a small town? Perhaps yesterday’s shooting shows that there’s no rhyme or reason to how and when something can happen.
I know this feeling will last until the news story fades and we all get back to our busy schedules. But while this feeling of helplessness, frustration and even anger at the idea it will happen again, I have to ask how do we ever feel safe in our communities?
For me, it’s my faith. I remember as a child, my dad would sit at the breakfast table and read devotions every morning before school. He would pray for each one of us every day. I never thought much about it at the time because it was just part of our morning routine. As an adult, it’s easy to see that my parents’ faith for our safety laid in a higher power. Now I can’t say it would have ever occurred to them to pray for our physical safety at school from a gunman, but even then, they knew they couldn’t control everything in our lives.
Our focus at Lucky Kat World is teaching kids good character and encouraging positive attitudes and positive behaviors. So it’s not unusual for us to hear stories about elementary school children being bullied, harassed, shoved or the complete opposite, totally ignored. We talk to parents that feel helpless, frustrated and even angry that they can’t protect their children. Shootings or bullying, anything that hurts our children is devastating. And sometimes, if feels like no one is able to help.
If your child is hurting, yesterday is a reminder that you can’t give up until you find someone that will listen. If the teacher isn’t finding a way to protect your child, go to the school counselor. Still not getting results? Go to the principal. If they can’t help, go the Superintendent, then the school board … keep going until you find someone who is able to step in and make a difference. Going over someone’s head doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you or they haven’t tried their best to protect your child. But if they aren’t able to resolve the problem, keep moving it up the chain. It’s not always an easy path but eventually you’ll find someone that will listen and find a way to intervene. By persevering, you child will see your tenacity and that you won’t give up until they’re safe. And if your faith is important to you, take time to pray with them each morning before they leave for school. Remind them that God can change a bully’s heart. Your faith will give them as much comfort as your words.