Following the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 kids and two teachers, schools around the country are reopening this year with a greater emphasis on security.
Even with these safeguards, many parents are anxious about the start of the school year.
One is constantly concerned about that in the back of one’s mind. And it’s never out of the question, according to Cassie Walton, a mother of two from McAlester, Oklahoma. It’s always conceivable, regardless of where one resides or what sort of school one attends; one simply never knows.
Walton said she ordered the typical school materials for her eldest son Weston, 5, as well as a bulletproof bag liner to fit inside his Spiderman backpack, as he is ready to start kindergarten this month.
Walton, 22, also put her kid through an impromptu active shooter practice at home in the belief that it would better prepare him for what he could encounter in his school.
She believes it’s vital for him to have some thoughts about what he should be doing instead of going in naively and without understanding anything, Walton said. He’s been doing a great job of memorizing what to do and how to execute it, and of course she cautioned him that in time it might not be precisely the same, that he might have to do something else.
Walton was born within a year of the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy, which killed 12 students and one teacher. She claimed she grew up participating in school safety exercises and utilised what she recalled from active shooter drills at her high school to teach her kid.
They’d get threats all the time, and one never knew which ones were genuine and which ones weren’t, Walton recalled of her high school days. Therefore, no matter what, you have to be ready to go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye.
@thewaltonfamily1 Happy back to school season…. #foryoupage #backtoschool #foryou #needschange #PostitAffirmations #momiktok ♬ L$d – Luclover
Walton posted a TikTok video of herself conducting her kid through an active shooter scenario at home just days before he began kindergarten.
She can be heard in the video telling Weston what to do if a teacher tells him to go into a corner and be quiet and still. Afterwards, she questions her son what he would do if there was a shooter in the classroom and he heard a police officer inquire whether anyone was there, telling him to “remain completely silent.”
Walton’s TikTok video has earned over 1 million likes.
She simply intended to express that, as horrible as it is, it’s becoming reality with the way things are going, Walton added. Every year, there are more and more shootings, and it’s better to be prepared than sorry.
Walton’s post drew hundreds of comments on TikTok, with many other parents expressing concern about their kids.
Some also stated that they have discussed probable school shootings with their children at home.
“I can’t stop sobbing while watching this. Every year, I talk to my kids about it, and I still get emotional “one commenter commented
Janine Domingues, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, said that added fear this year, in addition to usual back-to-school worry, is to be anticipated as a result of the shooting in Uvalde.
There is obviously an extra dimension, she believes more so for parents, concerning school shootings, Domingues expressed. She can absolutely identify as a parent of a soon-to-be 7-year-old entering first grade, seeking to make sure this is going to be a safe year and that they’re all ready for it.
Domingues advises parents who are concerned about the beginning of the school year to speak with school authorities about the safety strategy in place, which includes drills at school.
Her main advice is to follow what the school is doing, she added. She completely understands parents wanting to be prepared and having a desire, possibly, to do the drills at home, but she believes that could be counterproductive because what one says may be slightly different than what’s going to be done at school, and it can actually create potentially more chaos and place folks at risk.
Before speaking with their kid, parents should find out what safety precautions are in place at their kid’s school, according to Safe and Sound Schools, a nonprofit group created by parents who lost kids in the Sandy Hook school tragedy.
Ask one’s school administration or school safety coordinator, for example, what sorts of exercises children are engaging in, the group states in its online school safety handbook. Understand the directions and the terminology used to communicate these criteria to pupils.
The group also suggests that parents spend time addressing their children’s questions regarding school safety practices in order to determine “what knowledge they are seeking.”
“Some good starter questions include: What does your school do to keep you safe? or What are some of the safety lessons your school teaches you? according to the manual.
Similarly, Domingues stated that parents may inform their children that they would be practising safety at school without causing more fear.
Occasionally, planning too much ahead of time might make an apprehensive youngster even more worried, Domingues explained. If one wants to say anything at all, one can just say, there’s a lot of things you learn at school, and some of the things you’re going to learn are about how to keep each other safe, and stop it at that.
While parents may be more concerned about school safety than their children, Domingues believes they may be good role models for their children in how they deal with their concerns.
To begin, Domingues suggests that parents discuss their concerns with their children freely and on a developmentally correct level.
She believes speaking about it can be extremely helpful because it enables them to relieve some of that tension and it also enables them see how you’re managing the situation, Domingues said. She often tells parents to get to a point where they feel peaceful — one may still be upset, furious that this is occurring, worried about it, and even speak about it in that way, but one can also do it calmly and in control. This manner, one is showing his/her children that it’s appropriate to express their emotions. It’s both suitable and correct.
Domingues said that it is also beneficial for parents to talk to their children about incidents such as school shootings so that parents may ensure they are “at the forefront of the narrative” of what their kid is hearing.
When it comes to assisting children with issues such as a school shooting or back-to-school anxiety, Domingues believes it is critical for parents to have an open communication and ask questions in order to determine what is on the child’s mind or how much they know about an incident.
According to Domingues, students and parents alike may practise grounding to assist deal with stress by concentrating on what they see, hear, feel, and smell directly around them.
Lastly, Domingues advised parents to be mindful of probable signals that they or their kid may want professional assistance in dealing with their difficulties.
As a parent, if one is sending off their child and it’s something that one is continuously worrying about throughout the day and it’s really disrupting functioning in that manner, it may be that one is wanting to talk to somebody else about it, she said. Really gain some skills around how she can get through this worry in a good way that is also beneficial to her kid.
According to Domingues, if a child still has recurrent issues with being comfy coming to school on a daily basis after the first month of school, the parent should seek assistance.
If it’s continuous and constant, she says, it’s time to seek out. Contact a counsellor, contact the school, contact a school psychologist, contact a clinical psychologist, and get some advice and strategies to actually assist them prepare and handle that worry.