By Susan Jara
It’s a terrifying scenario that has become all too familiar: A gunman walks into a school and starts shooting. Parents rush to the scene and wait in desperation to find out whether their child survived. Some of them do not.
The shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Since the tragic 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, more than 400 people have been shot at schools, according to the New York Times.
As a parent watching these tragedies unfold over and over again, I felt powerless, frightened, and bewildered as to how to discuss these events with my children—and really, how to keep them safe going forward. Many parent friends say they’re afraid to send their kids through the school doors every day in light of these mass shootings. We wonder: Are the active shooter drills they’re participating in even helping?
“Every day I leave the house, thinking, ‘What if something happens at my school or at my child’s school,’ says Jill Murray, a mom and social worker in a high school near Newtown, Connecticut. “What if this is the last time I see my son?”
So I sought the advice of experts to help guide myself and other parents through this. What can we do to keep them safe, and what can we do to prevent anxiety from taking over?