When the news about the 9/11 terrorist attacks began to surface, people understandably panicked. All over the country, they left work and took their kids out of school. I was already at my children’s school for a meeting with the headmaster, but took the time to go and see my son and daughter, who were 6 and 8 at time. I explained to them that something terrible had happened in New York, details were still emerging, that I was close by and everything would be OK. I left them there because I knew they were safe. As safe as they could or would be anyplace else.
Today, I am not so sure that same feeling would exist as domestic terrorism has found a new home in our schools. In 2012 alone, there were at least 28 shootings that took place on school grounds, from the Sandyhook massacre to Purdue University. And, 2014 is off to an equally disturbing start.
Schools were the place where we once felt, and then believed that our children were protected from the evil realities of the world. The elementary halls that shielded their innocence, is now permeated by the presence or discharge of firearms; and, college campuses where the comfort and freedom of self-discovery once resided is now occupied by gun violence.
Like the streets so many students left behind, the realities of America’s preoccupation with guns have permeated what should otherwise be the protective bubble known as school. Advocates call for stricter gun control; activists demand more from the government. The blame falls in the lap of broken families, an equally broken community and all in between, but the reality is the result of myriad factors and our society is now both consumed with violence and tolerant of its outcome. It is accepted as the means of resolving differences, large and small and its ever-presence has desensitized us to the carnage.
What was once a storybook environment for our children has turned into a horror flick. We cry, complain, host a rally, hold a vigil and move on; until the next time. At some point, we’ll collectively say enough is enough; participate rather than pointing a finger; address the multitude of contributing factors with equally varying solutions, and start figuring out the “how” instead of hiding behind repeatedly asking “why?”