Hello, there. Remember me? I’m that guy who masquerades as a stormtrooper. What’s funny about that is the plastic stormtrooper armor is about as effective for stormtroopers as my mental armor is for me.
But I’m not here to talk to you about armor. At least, not today. Or maybe I am…
In my last post I announced that I had a new job working for a small school district in southern Indiana. For the last five weeks I’ve been busting my ass to make sure teachers and students have technology that works so teachers can teach and students can student. Um, I mean, learn.
I have loved the new job so far. The staff of the school district has been incredibly friendly and welcoming. I’ve been offered refreshments, snacks, and other sorts of niceties simply for showing up to help people with technology issues. I have been so busy at work (and at home because kids don’t raise themselves) that I had nearly forgotten that there was a world outside my tunnel vision filled with evil and assholes.
Last week my school district had ALICE drills.
It sounds fairly innocent, doesn’t it? Alice is just that nice girl down the road, right? No, wait. Alice is that sweet little darling who fell down the rabbit hole and talked to an invisible cat.
When someone mentions Columbine or Sandy Hook, horrible thoughts come unmistakably to mind. Mass murder. School shootings. Innocent children and teachers being slaughtered by mad men with ill-gotten firearms.
ALICE drills are practice for school shootings. Let that sink in for a minute. School shootings happen so often that schools now have to train their staff and students how to respond if, God forbid, some lunatic somehow gets into the school and starts indiscriminately shooting people.
I was in my office when the high school ran their drill. A teacher ran in, turned off the lights, and locked all the doors. I don’t know what happened after that because I kept working. Later that day, I walked in to the middle school through a maintenance door. Unbeknownst to me, they were in the middle of their drill. Children were huddled together. Lights were off. Staff were scouring the halls. The vice-principal rightly assumed I had no idea what was going on, but got reprimanded for not questioning who I was and why I was there during the drill.
This morning is when it really struck me how awful these times are. As I walked through the primary school library, a staff member was speaking to a group of young children, I’m guessing between kindergarten and 2nd grade (some of them barely a year older than Baby C), and was explaining to them what they should do in the dreadful event of a stranger breaking into the school with the intent of hurting them.
What. The. Fuck.
You know, it’s already hard enough being a kid. You have several classes a day where you’re taught multiple subjects. There’s a complex social hierarchy to deal with. And peer pressure. You can’t forget peer pressure. And the letter “y”. Is it a vowel or a consonant? Your parents make you do chores. You have homework. You have to eat your vegetables. You have to be nice to your siblings. And now, on top of all that, now you have to remember what to do if some lunatic comes barging into your school with loaded guns and a happy trigger finger.
I lost my train of thought momentarily. I was overcome with indescribable sadness. The thought that teaching children so young what do to in the event of a shooter has become a necessity totally ruined my day.
And now as I write this I wonder: what are we doing to address this? What solutions are there? Surely the onus isn’t entirely on schools to prevent school shootings. Educating children is a monumental task in itself. Responding to an armed shooter is outside the boundaries of a teacher’s job. These are issues above my head. I don’t know what the answers are. I don’t know how to keep guns only in the hands of responsible owners. I don’t know how to ensure mentally ill people seek and receive the care they need so they don’t hurt themselves or others.
All I can tell you for sure is that it’s a sad state of affairs that it’s come to this. Being murdered isn’t something a child should have to even consider, let alone be trained to prevent.