Active shooter drills: an American school reality

“I’m scared shitless about my daughter starting kindergarten this year,” my colleague confided in me yesterday. “Just the mere thought that an active gunman could get into her school and start shooting makes me want to sob uncontrollably. I held both of my kids on Tuesday night and just cried for hours, and my older one kept asking me what was wrong. Did you know that active shooter drills are a norm in schools now?! My daughter told me they are making them do these drills regularly at her preschool… AT HER PRESCHOOL! This is life in American schools now, and she hasn’t even started kindergarten yet!”

I got teary-eyed listening to my colleague getting distressed, sharing her worst fears with me…Well, they are my worst fears, too. It also made me sick to my stomach to think that this is a reality in schools, but only here in the U.S. No other country on earth has a requirement for active shooter drills in schools; I guess that’s another example of fucking American exceptionalism, however you want to define that. I thought back to my own time in school, and the only drills we had were in preparation for fire or earthquakes — natural disasters, not manmade cycles of hell the way we are dealing with today with gun violence and politicians who would rather give their pointless “thoughts and prayers” than pass any legislation to help prevent the same carnage from happening over and over on repeat.

I have cherished every night I have put my own baby to bed, rocking her back and forth, caressing her hair and cheeks, kissing her, singing her lullabies, letting her nurse at my breast to calm her down for her sleep. But this week, I have held her even a little tighter and told her that I would still try to do everything in my power to keep her healthy and safe…But honestly, I just wasn’t sure how far my power could extend in a country as insane as this one. I just feel helpless.

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