School shootings. School bus accidents. These are the things that keep parents up at night. Now there's a new worry on the horizon that brings the two together: school bus shootings like the one that claimed the life of a 13-year-old girl in Florida this morning.
The girl was doing what millions of kids across the nation, kids like my own daughter, were doing this morning. She was riding the bus along with her 7-year-old sibling and other students on their way to three different schools in the Miami area.
And then it happened. Another rider, another student, pulled out a gun.
Police are releasing few details about how or why. We know only that the shooter was male, and while the 13-year-old victim was being airlifted to a children's hospital where she eventually succumbed to her injuries, he was being placed under arrest.
The incident has sparked a fear I am having trouble putting into words.
I was nervous the first few times I put my daughter on a bus because of the sheer number of car accidents in America. Not to mention I was once in a school bus accident as a teenager (we were all fine -- that thing was built like a tank). School shootings, of course, leave me with the same sort of terror that every parent has felt at some point hearing about this shooting or that.
But there's something particularly unsettling about the two incidents coming together. In a school shooting scenario, you always hope that your child will be able to take advantage of the sheer size of a school building and escape. You hope they will be able to hide. In terms of bus accidents, you hope that the vehicle will do what it was built for, withstand the impact, and keep those kids safe.
But on a school bus when a child pulls out a gun, there is no place to hide. There is no way to get away. The very same thing that makes buses safe to get our kids to school works against them.
My heart goes out to the family of this little girl. For me, this is simply a fear. For them, this is a harsh new reality.
What has been running through your head since you heard the words "school bus shooting"?
Image via wheany/Flickr