South Carolina Elementary School Shooting Is a Reality Check for All Parents

A 14-year-old boy opened fire on the playground of a South Carolina elementary school Wednesday, injuring two first graders and their teacher. One 6-year-old is in critical condition. It's every parent's worst nightmare and yet another reminder that our kids are living in a world we could have never imagined.

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The teenager has been arrested, but his name isn't being released because he's a minor. According to reports, events unfolded quickly at Townville Elementary School in South Carolina.

Authorities say that just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the shooter drove a truck into the chain-link playground fence and started shooting, but not before a student reportedly heard him shout, "I hate my life!" The gunman was quickly tackled by Jamie Brock, a hulk of a man who happens to be a volunteer firefighter of 30 years, and who was one of the first to arrive on the scene. But despite Brock's heroism, the teenager was able to shoot two 6-year-olds and a teacher.

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Six-year-old Jacob Hall was airlifted to the hospital, where he was listed as being in critical condition. The other student (who was shot in the foot) and the teacher (who bravely saved her other students by getting them inside) were treated at the hospital and, thankfully, released.

Before heading to the school, the teenager also shot and killed his father, 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne.

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As details continue to emerge, there's one lingering question: Why did a 14-year-old have access to a gun? And did anyone have any inkling he might turn violent? We might never get those answers.

But according to a report from local news WSPA, the boy was being home schooled after getting expelled last year for "bringing a hatchet to school and attacking a child."

So it's not like there weren't any signs he could turn violent.

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As the news of the school shooting broke, you could practically hear the gasp of millions of parents who send their precious babies to school every day with the belief they can be kept safe. We send them behind bars with gates and past school resource police officers and onto playgrounds we have to believe are safe. That belief was shaken once again with word of this South Carolina shooting.

As the mother of a first grader, I was particularly shaken by the cable news images of crying kids and frightened parents. School shootings like these aren't unthinkable anymore; they're just something we try not to think about. And then something like this happens, and we're forced to confront the reality our kids are living in today.

Then my daughter came home and started to tell me this fun thing they did at school.

"It's called a lockdown and the adults lock the doors and we have to be very, very quiet," she explained like it was a new, fun game she learned. I tried not to burst into tears.

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I'm so happy her teachers and school administrators don't scare kids during these drills and are trying to make them just another school activity, but that's not much comfort. School violence is a reality for Americans, and we have to accept that.

We need to push for regulations that could keep guns out of the hands of kids, and for mental health services that people can turn to. Those are smart solutions that could make things better for all of our kids. But it's also important to be realistic. The best thing we can do is talk to our kids about how to react in these situations and how to try to keep themselves safe when we're not around.

We have to embrace the lockdown.

As for Townville, classes are canceled and law enforcement is still trying to piece together the events leading up to the incident. For the rest of us, this is yet another reminder that emergency "active shooter" drills, tall fences, and school police officers are our best line of defense, and here to stay.

 

Image via MSNBC/YouTube

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