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It isn't often I say I'm wrong. But I've sat, like many parents in America today, with tears rolling down my face as I've updated, updated, updated the news sites, hoping that the news of the school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut will somehow magically change. That suddenly we will learn that they made a mistake, there weren't 27 people killed (the latest report), some 18 innocent children. But magic doesn't exist.
And so where a few months ago I railed against school shooting drills, I am sitting here sad, broken. I was wrong. We need school shooting drills in America, in our high schools, and even more so ... in our elementary schools.
Because while I am crying for the lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm crying too for what could have happened if the shooter had entered not Sandy Hook Elementary but the school where my daughter sits today, learning her subtraction facts and reading her Magic Treehouse books.
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Would she have known what to do? Not likely.
She is 7. She is intelligent, but she is naive. I am not a mommy blogger contemptuously bashing her own child on the Internet; I'm simply realistic. She does not yet have a brain developed to contemplate the next step, to deduce the best way to avoid an attack. She is just 7.
It is a blessing in that she is able to enjoy a pure childhood. It is a curse in that the purity of childhood is stained by the evil that is in the heart of a man or woman who would commit the sort of atrocious act that occurred in Connecticut this morning.
Yesterday I would have told you that little kids need to feel safe in their schools; that shootings are still rare enough that we shouldn't scare them with shooting drills. But as of yesterday I was thinking only of shootings in high school, where kids are just a little bit older, a little bit better at problem solving, a little bit less defenseless.
I couldn't imagine someone walking into an elementary school and shooting in a kindergarten classroom (according to at least one report) because that would be imagining the sort of monster I simply didn't want to acknowledge existed.
But he does exist.
And in Connecticut this morning, innocent children were helpless when the monster arrived, armed to the teeth.
I rescind everything I said. Bring on the shooting drills. Teach kids what they need to do if some psychopath comes barrelling in the door with a gun.
Keep our children safe.
Has there been a shooting drill at your child's school? Would you support one now?
Image via frankjuarez/Flickr