Last spring my laconic eighth grader came to me about the emergency contingency plans at his school. He was legit concerned about what would happen if there was an active shooter situation. Good convo. We moved on. But then he brought it up again. When he’s talking to me more than once about a situation, I listen. Then take action.
I asked his permission to talk with the principal. We are at a private school and I wasn’t sure what (if any) systems were in place. I sent an email to her saying that my son isn’t prone to anxiety but has expressed concern on more than one occasion. He also is very interested in military strategy and had a few thoughts about the potential weakness of the school’s environment.
Within minutes, she called me back. She had stopped him in the hallway, brought him into her office, and explained their carefully thought out active shooter action plan (which isn’t visible for multiple reasons). I felt loved in the situation and I’m sure my son did too. In fact, after school we debriefed and he told me he was satisfied.
But this got me thinking. Even now, a year later, I am weeping typing this. Why does a child have to worry about school shooters? This should not be. But it is the world in which we live. What can be done?
Weeks after the conversation with him and the principal, I was speaking to a group of women at a marriage conference. Off the cuff I said, “Want to reduce school shootings? Respect your husband.” I’ll unpack that in a future blog post but my first suggestion in reducing school shootings is to:
STRENGTHEN YOUR MARRIAGE.
You can do this a myriad of ways but foremost is to go to a Weekend to Remember marriage conference. I cannot speak highly enough about these weekends. If you sign up before January 28, it’s BOGO free registration. Pay for one spouse and the other goes free. Check out some of the locations all over the US. Go somewhere fun and fight the creeping isolation that threatens every marriage.
Just a quick survey of a handful of shooter situations shows that most came from troubled backgrounds. Very few came from a home with both biological parents still living there. Of course there are lots of factors involved, but the home life is an important one.
The second suggestion for reducing school shootings is to eat dinner together as a family at least three nights a week. It doesn’t even have to be dinner at home (though that is preferred). Eat somewhere that you are together as a family, looking at each other.
In his book, The Collapse of Parenting, medical doctor and PhD Leonard Sax speaks about how eating together as a family is for the betterment of the entire family — exponentially good with each additional meal. My husband recently wrote an article with an extended quote from that book about this very thing. (By the way, that book was one of my favs from 2017, highly recommend it, esp. the first half.)
Thirdly, invite someone from school to dinner. Bonus points if you can invite the whole family. Feels too weird to bring them home? Meet for ice cream. When you know the kids at your kids’ school, then you know how to pray. You know how to help. You know how to encourage. It shows that someone cares. Again, if you look through the list of the school shooters, most said they felt bullied or there were signs that they felt unloved for various reasons.
The above three ideas aren’t rocket science but they are effective. I’ll take effective over complex any day…especially when it comes to eliminating school shootings.