Tuesday, 6 May 2008

A Child Shouldn't Have to Fear

It's been an interesting week. Last Thursday, my son came home for lunch with a story about something written on one of the desks in his classroom. After school, all three of my kids brought home notes explaining that there had been a message written on one of the desks, threatening harm to the students on May 8th. The two older kids shrugged it off as a prank by a dumb kid. My youngest came home, handed me the note and burst into tears. She cried for quite awhile, worried about going back to school. What a sad world this is when kids feel afraid to attend classes and get an education.

Over the last three school days, the RCMP has been called in and everyone is taking the note seriously. Yesterday two other notes were found, so the school is basically in lock-down. Kids are restricted in their movements, no high school students are allowed in the elementary school (which is a wing of the same building), and some parents have promised to keep their kids home on Thursday. Some parents have even gone as far as to cancel soccer practices after school.

My brother-in-law is the school councilor and he is sending his children. I also have a sister-in-law who is scheduled to sub in the high school that day. None of us are looking forward to Thursday, but we know the school authorities and the RCMP are doing all they can to keep our children safe. My husband and I've talked it over and decided our kids will attend school. We won't allow ourselves to be held hostage.

And what happens if Thursday passes without incident? Does the crisis pass and everything go back to normal? Or if nothing happens, does the school stay in lock down until they find out who the note writer is? Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking we live in a small town where nothing happens, and in our little school where everyone knows everyone else, things like this aren't possible.

Yet the truth is, none of us are immune. Nine years ago, a school shooting happened in another small town, an hour and a half east of us. It shocked and horrified us and brought home to our little community a measure of fear we had never felt before. This could happen to us and none of our children are completely safe wherever they are.

Thinking back on my own childhood, it almost seems idyllic. All the things that used to scare me, like whether I could make friends at my new school, getting picked for teams in gym class, and fire drills seems so trivial now. My children have much larger fears, like lock-down drills, which of their classmates is writing threatening notes, and hearing news reports of school shootings in other communities.

The world is a scary place and I'm trying to walk that fine line between being over-protective and not taking potential threats seriously enough. It's one of those things I struggle with as a parent. I can't keep my children home and hide them from all dangers. I can't follow them everywhere they go and be there for them every second of every day. At some point I have to let go and trust others who care about them to help keep their world safe. And when there is nothing else I can do, I can still send them out into the world with a constant prayer in my heart.


Anonymous said...

Stephanie. We will add a special prayer of safety on all our families this week. Especially your kids facing this extra stress and fear. Love Aunt Sheila

the Humphreys said...

Keep them home and make a fun day out of it....i doubt there will be much learning going on anyway. We'll be hoping and praying that its just a prank that got out of hand.

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