In 1999 the unthinkable happened. 2 gunmen went into Columbine High School and killed 12 students and 1 teacher. It was a massacre. The gunmen would die that day as well making the death toll fifteen. My coworkers and I sat stunned hearing this news. Some cried. None could believe this was happening. This was a horrible event. The first of many. The first of too many.
Just shy of 19 years later, school massacres are the new normal as we sit in the wake to more lives taken in Parkland Florida. In April of 1999 I was not yet a parent. I could not understand or grasp the full level of this massacre. My son is a senior in high school. He has 103 days left before he graduates. 103 days and then he never has to set foot in a high school again.
I know this is beyond a parent’s worst nightmare and I also know what trauma does to teenagers. The grief these parents have and the trauma of the survivors is beyond measure. I am angry and frustrated at the nothing. I also hate the cycle.
After every one of these shootings I see the same memes,videos and posts. I hear and read the same talking points on both sides of the gun issue and both extremes of the political spectrum. What I do not see is better laws. I do not see is change. What I do see is another massacre and more dead children and more dead teachers.
I was talking with a friend who is a school administrator yesterday. When he started his teaching career, he was a teacher in the “inner city” of Chicago. We’ve spoken a few times about our mutual frustrations of white cis het middle class suburbs. When parents find out about the schools he used to work in, they say dumb things from a place of privilege and sometimes racist things. They speak of the problems of Chicago and other cities as if it is a black thing and they love to pretend that drugs, gangs and trafficking do not exist in the white burbs.
He was telling me the emails he is getting from these parents. They are demanding metal detectors. They want to know if the teachers will be provided glocks. Many of them are telling him how much money they make and reminding him that they moved into this town specifically for the safe schools and safe neighborhood and wants to know what he is doing to protect not only their investment, but their children.
He told me that in this new reality, there is no such thing as a safe neighborhood with a safe school. This can happen anywhere and in any school. He has teachers that have anxiety over this knowledge. He has teachers and counselors after every one of these massacres informing him of emotional trauma students are suffering regardless where it happened. He’s also frustrated that people that live in million dollar homes vote no to every referendum on the ballot that could improve the schools he serves but suddenly want increased security staff, metal detectors, and glocks for everyone.He and I both agreed that the cycle we currently have is horrific and maddening. It is also useless and just leads to more dead kids. We are throwing talking points, memes and videos across chasms and another person with a gun runs into another school and does the unthinkable.
About the only thing I am doing differently this time around is I am writing, emailing, and calling my local reps and telling them I am done with this. I have also informed them that this is not the last they have heard from me and they will get used to my name. I am also not sharing the same memes and talking points.
As a parent of an LGBTQIA teen there are so many groups for me to join, donate to, and use as a resource. As a friend and a neighbor who cares about my neighbors, I have groups like Black Lives Matter I can join, donate to and use as a resource. There is another group that I have decided to take a greater part in. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. It is a group we can join, donate to and use as a resource.
I am tired and scared. I’m angry and frustrated. I don’t know what to do. Many of us do not know what to do. What we have been doing is not working and more kids are dead. Our memes and arguments are just part of a vicious drama triangle that is caught in an endless loop. The loop needs to end.
We as a society have failed every child and teacher and school worker that has died. Action is needed now. Please, if you have time to post memes and videos about this issue, take some time and learn how to fight this. Learn how to put pressure on the politicians, neuter the NRA, and help the families that have lost too much.
This is our new normal. Our new normal is deadly and wrong.
I am not an expert here. I don’t have the solutions to this mess and this pain. What I am is a parent. A very scared and angry parent who loves his kid and cannot imagine life without him.
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