A Sad State of Affairs

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.

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About Twindaddy (324 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

76 Comments on A Sad State of Affairs

  1. Scott,I volunteer with the fire department, and we recently ran an “Active Shooter” drill at my kids’ school in conjunction with the police department. It was on the weekend, so there were no actual kids there. But going through the same hallways as my own children, in my full FF gear with police looking for bombs, with live “fire” taking place — it was hard not to think of what my kids would be experiencing under those horrific conditions. While I’m glad we did the drill so we could work through the scenario in the event of an actual school shooting, just like you it saddened me to think we needed the practice at all…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m filled with HUGE sadness now. I’m glad you wrote this, but….fuck! 😦

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  3. That is so sad on so many levels.

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  4. Scott, I agree 100% about the sadness. I also know that given shitty possibilities, training and preparation are the only things that will save your ass. Kids are remarkably resilient, so someday when shooting up schools is passe, they’ll still be okay adults.

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  5. Good to see you, TD. No one should be threatened by folks with a gun, least of all our kids. We’ve got to enact better gun laws. But I no longer feel I have to convince you and that makes me feel great!

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  6. It is terribly sad and difficult to wrap my mind around. My kids have had these intruder drills at their school too. On the one hand I’m glad those who are watching over my kids when I’m not with them are being prepared as best they can to handle such a situation. On the other hand, like you, it breaks my heart that we live in a world where children who believe in the magic of Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies are practicing how to survive an attack in a place where they should feel safe. Congrats on the job. I missed your announcement!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is sick. It’s sick that this is the only action we’ve taken to address this problem since Columbine, which was 16 years ago. There are so many things that could be done. We need better security at schools. We need better background checks and ways for doctors to flag mentally unstable people so they aren’t able to buy guns. Close the gun show loopholes. There are many simple things we can do that don’t take away anyone’s rights to own guns. And better treatment for people who are suffering from whatever kind of affliction causes you to shoot up innocent people. But that’s the hard stuff to tackle so, like you said, the onus is on teachers and schools. My daughter has come home from these drills telling me her “hiding spot.” And my heart goes into palpitations just hearing her say that.

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    • Makes you think twice about sending them to school, doesn’t it? The schools in my county have a police officer on duty from the time school opens to the time it dismisses. It makes me feel better about their safety, but at the same time worries me that it has become necessary to do so.

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  8. This sad, but considering that a school shooting is now a new normal, it’s better to prepared than not.
    Also, I still remember the nuclear war drills. Different generations, different dangers – although a school shooting is much more likely to happen than a nuclear bomb, at least for now.

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  9. They’re doing that here cos a little girl was almost kidnapped right from the school grounds (Solana Beach) It was a big news story after the incident, teaching kids how to avoid being snatched/killed and how to fight back. It’s so wrong, I couldn’t even watch the news. Making kids feel responsible for their own safety is not the answer. Society is messed up.

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    • Agreed. Society is very messed up. I mean, we were taught about stranger danger and all that stuff as children, but this is a whole new level of WTF.

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      • You’re right. A whole NEW level. We live across the street from the school that was shot up by a gunman while the kids were at recess and a couple of girls were wounded, but no one killed. Can you believe it? The school my son attended many years before! We had been out of town at the time actually visiting my son at school when people started calling to tell us our house was on national TV. If it were me, I’d be homeschooling now, the world is less safe than it’s ever been.

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        • If I could homeschooling I would, for more reasons than student safety. But that’s a discussion for another time.

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          • I was a teacher, so pretty easy for me, but living so close to a school made him really want to go and be like other kids, so I just enriched his public school education. He could have done GATE but our district didn’t have a good program, so he and I worked on projects on our own. His IQ was so high (not bragging) we felt that it was important that he learn to get along with all types of people. In high school, he was AP all the way.

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  10. I don’t remember going through any drills like this… and I’m pretty sure there were plenty of school shootings going on in the 80’s. Heck, the Boomtown Rats wrote a song about one of them…

    Society doesn’t hunker down and protect children as much as they do these days because things are more dangerous…. it does so because of hysteria and panic. As hard as it is to think about, kids got kidnapped, tortured, shot, molested, etc. back in the old days as well… that stuff was just kept very, very under wraps. In the current world of the 24 hour news cycle and social media, its hard to keep anything a secret anymore…

    I’m not trying to make light of what you experienced… I’d have been totally WTF as well. But I don’t buy that shit about the world being worse now than it was then… absolute BS if you ask me. The only new normal is mass hysteria…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, as a parent, when you hear about these kinds of things, it worries you when you send your children off to school. I can’t say that I’ve gotten hysterical or anything, but I do stop to wonder. As I said in a previous comment, though, all schools in my county have a police officer on duty during school hours, so that eases my fears quite a bit. Not all schools have that, though.

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      • I understand the parent thing… well, I guess as well as someone who isn’t a parent can anyway. But I guess my point is it’s like people who fear flying because they hear stories of horrific plane crashes. The odds of dying in a car accident are exponentially larger than being killed in a aviation disaster… yet, plane crashes are monumental events that get a lot of exposure. It’s really not all that different with school shootings and the thousands of other ways kids could meet a bad end. Not that schools shouldn’t be prepared for such incidents… but to treat them like they are everyday commonplace occurrences is taking it a way too far.

        In all honesty, I think even having police officers patrolling schools is going overboard… it’s like having a weather spotter stationed on the school roof at all times to watch the skies for tornadoes… but then again, as you alluded to, it’s not really my issue to worry about, so it’s my two cents and nothing more…

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  11. It is a sad and scary place out there for all of us but particularly for kids. I think what’s even more scary is that these threats have become second nature and some are becoming desensitized by it all. It’s just like a video game or a movie so it makes it less “real”. Everything about what is going on is really messed up.

    My parents remember bomb sirens and having to hide under desks which I imagine was just as scary then. Great post, Scott. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is beyond sad. Districts in my area had this as well, when the kids were off. A coworker has a son who will start kindergarten in the fall. I tell him that I’m glad I don’t have kids. His response is that he is sometimes jealous because he has to worry about this and I don’t. So sad.

    On a side note, I’m glad you like your new job. Yay.

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  13. It really is so sad to think that the one place a child you feel safe in – a school – is the one place that they have to be frightened of. I can’t imagine any child learning and any teacher being able to teach under those circumstances, with the very thought that at any time, they may be gunned down. What a sick, sick, sick world we live in.

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  14. What is happening in your country is really horrendous. What is even more shocking is the rate at which this kind of thing happens there. Honestly, I have no answers for you. It is beyond sad. It is the reason I don’t watch CNN.

    Yes we have all kinds of BS here too. All just sad.

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  15. Excellent piece Scott. Congrats on your new job, it’s great to hear you’re doing well. When you speak from the personal experience of watching the drills, it is so much more impactful. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  16. Yes, sir. This is real. I was beside myself one day when my kids came home and told me about the drill they had at school. I was thinking fire drill. Then my first grader explained how the teacher put everyone in the closet, turned out the lights, and locked the door. They recently put up a fence with gates that are locked all day on the sweet neighborhood elementary school that collectively my kids have attended for the past eight years. It looks like a little mini prison.

    Sad times indeed. But I suppose I will be grateful for these drills and that godforsaken fence in the even, God forbid, our school is ever the target.

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    • On one hand, it is good that schools are being proactive about the unthinkable possibility that this should happen. On the other, it’s completely heartbreaking that this is what it’s come to.

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  17. I agree with you here. It’s horrid, the things that we have to worry about today. Sometimes I have a momentary feeling of dread wash over me when I’m out in a crowded place, just wondering what it would be like if something were to happen right then and there. And with the baby on the way? He hasn’t even come into this world yet and I’m terrified of sending him off to elementary school one day.

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  18. I wish I had something to say that would make these concerns disappear. It’s a sad, scary world for our children.

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  19. Kristi Campbell - findingninee // April 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm // Reply

    I am so unbelievably sad and angry that my kindergartner and kids everywhere need to practice for evil coming in and hurting them at a supposed safe place. Just thinking about the horror brings me to tears and I just…ARGH > 😦

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  20. I couldn’t agree with this more. I hate that are kids have to grow up with this fear. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that just about anyone can purchase a high powered, semi-automatic weapon that had no other purpose than to violently kill, and our kids have to add one more thing to the list of things to be afraid of at school: tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, bomb threats, and now shooters.

    I can’t let myself think any more about it.

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  21. Yeah, I remember you. We all do. What do you think? We deleted you from our readers? That’s nuts.

    Over the weekend I was driving through Connecticut. We passed the freeway exit for Sandy Hook. I thought about how a madman walked into an elementary school with an automatic weapon and slaughtered children and since that time, absolutely NOTHING has happened to curtail gun ownership. The NRA just had their annual convention. Big success. Cocksuckers. I hate those guys. And I save hate for when I really mean it.

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  22. I am ill with sadness. This simply makes we want to weep and then it makes me want to find the people who continue to refuse to see just how terrible it all is. I don’t know the answer, but there has to be one.

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  23. I fully agree with you… That sounds terrible, to be honest. Whenever we had this fire drills, we just got down the stairs at easse while talking to each other. It was just something that had to be done, because there is a chance something goes wrong and the building will catch fire.
    But I’m afraid that the chances to have a school shooting in America are way, way higher.

    I’ve got my own opinionw about what the solution would be, but whatever it is, it’s extremely sad that these drills are happening there.

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  24. Sheesh, that is scary. And yet they don’t seem to think that perhaps ensuring that all gun owners are responsible with their weapons and are checked on occasionally is a good idea. Only in America, I think. 😦

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    • Well, there are many people who stand by their constitutional right to bear arms, and I get that, but times have changed in the last couple hundred years. This isn’t working anymore…

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  25. As much as I agree how much it sucks that we have to train our children to be safe, I compartmentalize it with the thought that as a young child I hid under my desk for air raid drills (still not sure how that desk was going to save me in the event of a freaking bomb) and while our school did have a bomb shelter looking back it was the size of a janitorial closet. It seems we had a few decades of peace. Then 9/11, then Columbine and more. I don’t know why the world is going into the toilet, but I am thankful we can prepare.

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