Mothers protect children.
All around the world, across the majority of the animal kingdom, mothers protect children.
We carry our babies for nine months in our womb, snuggled beneath our hearts. We eat the right things and do the right things and avoid the right things so that we can keep them safe while they grow. We cannot wait for them to enter the world so that we can hold them and raise them and watch them become the unique little individuals that they were intended to be.
Then they arrive.
At some point in the process of parenthood, our joy becomes muddled with anxiety as we add items to the list of circumstances we cannot protect our children from. Scraped knees. The flu. Broken hearts. Bullies. School shootings.
I read today that the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, yesterday was the 18th school shooting this year. It’s only 46 days into the year 2018 and already 23 people have died and many others wounded in direct connection to a shooting on school property.
We all want to find a deserving target to take the blame. It’s the Republicans who won’t consider stricter gun control laws. Or it’s Democrats who are too soft on those afflicted with mental illness. Surely it’s the media who glorify violence. But it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is. Not really. What matters is our children and what we can do moving forward.
Here are some ideas as to what we as mothers can be doing now.
Talk to your kids.
This sounds very obvious, but for many families it’s not. We need to talk openly about school violence with our children (on an age appropriate level) without scaring them and adding to the hysteria that often follows these tragic events. We need to remind them of the policies that are in place at their schools to keep them safe but also teach them to think quickly on their feet. It’s also important to talk about their friends and people they know at school. Has there been any bullying? Has anyone ever threatened anything violent? Are there any people that your child feels unsafe around?Remind them to tell a teacher or other adult if they see someone with a gun. Remind them to take threats seriously and to not ignore signs of mental illness or violent behavior.
Be a safe person.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your children (especially your older children and teenagers) is extremely important. But communication goes both ways. Your child needs you to be a good listener so that he or she feels that YOU are someone they feel safe talking to. If you tend to jump to conclusions or overreact, your child is less likely to open up and tell you the important details that could save someone’s life. So be there for them. Encourage them and thank them when they do open up and share with you.
Talk to your school and possibly your local law enforcement office.
If your child has given you any information about potential problems, take your concerns to someone who can do something about it. If your child’s school has school resource officers, fill them in. If the school seems uninterested, talk to the police. Then follow up. Never assume someone else will deal with the problem. Stay on top of the situation and find out what is being done to keep your child’s school safe. Will notifying your child’s school about a potential unsafe person guarantee the prevention of a crime? Not necessarily. But the number of school shootings in our country would be much higher if parents just like you and I didn’t contact the proper authorities. A number of planned shootings and bombings have been foiled because students and parents spoke up.
Whether you are an advocate for stricter gun laws or an advocate for arming teachers, we all want the same thing in the end: we want our children to be safe. That is the bottom line. People on all sides of the issue need to come together for the sake of our children. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s not even about freedom or responsibility. It’s about our children, and they deserve the very best from us.
They deserve the opportunity to go to school and church and the mall without fear of bullets and bombs and bloodshed.
They deserve to live in a world where the adults rally around them and sacrifice personal agendas and self-interest for the betterment and protection of our children.