It is a challenging day and age to have students in schools around the US as the words “lockdown” and “active shooter drill” have become more frequent. In fact, it is likely that you have either experienced one of these incidents at your own military child’s school or know someone who has been affected. When you are confronted with that moment, as I have been, it makes you take inventory as a parent of what you can do to feel less helpless and more in control of protecting your child.
“Kindergartner brings loaded gun to school”
Seeing those words made my breath stop for a moment. It’s not because I don’t believe something like this could happen, it’s because I do.
Earlier this month, someone noticed a heavy object in a six-year-old boy’s pocket, so they called the school. The School Resource Officer (SRO) from that Columbus, OH school stopped the student at the entryway where he discovered a loaded gun in the his pocket. He will not be charged because of his age.
Just a few months ago I met with the administrators at my kids’ school about this very topic. I was in tears and angry at the gall of a violent six-year old who threatened to bring a BB gun and shoot their teacher and classmates. I demanded they take her seriously. With a concerned look the principal replied, ‘I know what they said, but we have to consider the possibility of them even being able to act on the threat. We’re talking about a kindergartner.’
At this moment my mind is racing with everything I know about school shooters.
Is this a shooter in the making?
Many of them showed signs of being troubled and violent. They made threats and acted out. Their peers told administration. Reports had been filed and the “system” didn’t take their pattern of behavior as an active threat.
Understanding your rights as a parent
Here are the facts of what happens in the public school system when one of these incidents occurs. Administration is required to respond to infractions based on the school’s student code of conduct. Search your specific county to pull up your code. It is different between elementary and secondary school.
These infractions range from minor to major to zero tolerance. Each has its own protocol for actions that are to be taken, but they are fluffy and only seem to pacify. (i.e. Write a letter of apology to the class…)
I don’t have enough time or space to give all the details on how each infraction level is handled, but what I will do is speak as a mom who spends time in her kid’s classroom/school and has firsthand experience.
I understand that there has to be a code for how to discipline our students, BUT in my experience there are times when that code is a place to hide instead of taking more extreme measures to make sure that our children are SAFE. I’ve even seen it keep teachers from acting when they feel like more should be done.
There is a bright side here and there are steps you can take as a parent.
I’m grateful for two things in the Columbus incident that I referenced earlier:
- Someone noticed and spoke up.
- The school resource officer acted on it.
However, I’m disappointed that administrators typically don’t notify all parents when an incident like this occurs. That needs to change! Until then, here are some things you can do:
- Volunteer if/when you can, and attend school events.
Staff will know WHO you are, WHICH kids are yours, and HOW MUCH you care about their education and environment.
- Keep communication with their teacher.
Build a partnership of trust and support. And with this get as much info and insight as you can!
- Join SAC (School Advisory Council)
This is a good place to be heard and offer suggestions.
- Talk with your kids about the DAILY happenings and behavior of their classmates.
Make this a light conversation, but get all the information you can!
- SPEAK UP and offer creative solutions.
When the Code of Conduct was thrown at me, I offered small recommendations they could make that would give me peace of mind, like checking the child’s backpack every morning before school. They complied with all of my suggestions.
What cannot happen is teachers and/or administration who more concerned with not rocking the boat than they are with taking action. That’s a problem. As parents we have to hold them accountable to doing whatever it takes to protect our babies.
Do you know your student’s school policy on these types of matters? Has the school administration addressed this topic in recent times?Read comments