Kids and School Attacks

There is a kind of sense of nostalgia that I think a lot of my peers have about the awful reality that kids in school may have to face a school attack. The attitude appears to be that this is a new reality that kids today have to deal with that we didn’t have to deal with. I get it, I really do, to the extent that I am fighting to get additional security measures installed at my kid’s daycare.

But this isn’t new. We did drills regularly when I was a kid in the 80s. They were labeled differently… we called them “fire drills” or “earthquake drills” but they originated in nuclear attack drills. Some of my teachers still carried the dog tags they were given as kids around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And school attacks aren’t new. In 1989 a psycho shot up a school yard in Stockton with an AK-variant rifle. And there are examples beyond that. I distinctly remember sitting in school and drawing out my available options in each classroom to fight, run, or hide.

You can get into a pretty good furball about the statistics of whether school attacks are happening more often or with greater severity, but I argue that what has fundamentally changed is that we got a lot smarter and more aware. We talk about policy now. We talk about being able to execute a lockdown, and constructing schools that can inherently limit the damage a rampage shooter can deliver. We talk about first aid now and whether EMS can enter the warm zone or hot zone. We talk about more aggressive tactics law enforcement can use rather than sitting on the perimeter. We talk about arming and training organic staff to counter the threat. We talk about detecting threats before they emerge. We talk about critical incident recovery. We talk about fight, run, hide.

So, take some solace that we as a society are somewhere down the learning curve toward mitigating this threat. Contextualize that we and our children have always faced grave threats. Don’t wait for the legislatures to fix the problem: take meaningful action and go get scheduled for serious first aid training (at minimum) right now, today, and buy a kit right now, today.

Understand that in the overall scheme of what hurts and kills kids, this is still quite rare – that may help you to sort it in your overall kid-risk-management plan. It is never too early to teach your kid to be tough to victimize. It is never too early to teach them that only parents and similar should be touching them where their underwear is, and that they are allowed to set boundaries. It is never too early to teach them how to run, hide, and fight. You’re not wrecking their innocence – they already know there are monsters in this world (whether you want to believe it or not) you are teaching them that monsters can be defeated.


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Jim has a background in military aviation, specializing in combat rescue and close air support.  His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the policy or position of the Air Force or Department of Defense, and no references here should be interpreted as an endorsement of any product or service by any government agency.


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