Sending My Kid to School After Parkland

basketball hoop against sky

My kid has questions I can’t answer. He wants to know how he’s supposed to go to school and feel safe. I have no answers. I can’t tell him that everything will be fine. I can’t guarantee that. I can’t lie.

On the same day that a Florida teenager went into a high school and killed 17 people, my son’s former PE teacher turned himself into the local police for child pornography and other related charges.

Boom, crash, splat. He’s 14. His sense of safety at school is shattered.

How does he know that someone won’t come onto the campus armed and determined to do damage? How does he know that he can trust the very adults he’s been conditioned to rely on since pre-school?

How do I answer those questions?

I drove past his school yesterday. In the wake of school shootings, it looks like it’s waiting for something to happen. California schools have very open campuses. The entire front of the school is unfenced, open, vulnerable. There is no controlled point of entry. There are no metal detectors. There is no way to secure the campus. Someone can walk less than 100 yards from the street directly into an open classroom door.

Being a teenager is hard enough. I didn’t face half the madness that he faces today. He sees the news. He hears the empty “thoughts and prayers” lines. He’s worried that they haven’t done any “active-shooter” drills lately. We did earthquake drills when I was a kid — get under a desk or into a doorway, stay away from windows, and wait until the shaking stops. Earthquakes are a lot easier to rationalize than hate, violence, and murder.

I’m watching his innocence and trust in the world disappear. It’s crushing. This isn’t “Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real” territory. This is inexplicable.

He wants me to reassure him. I don’t know how. All I can tell him is that living in fear is limiting. That people are working hard to change things. That I have no guarantees. And I can admit, that all this scares me too.

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