Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Aftermath

There was a school shooting in our community last Friday.

A 13 year old male student asked to be excused from his science class. He returned with 2 guns and opened fire. A female student was injured. The science teacher (and football coach) tackled the shooter, knocked the guns away, getting shot in the process. Thankfully, no one was killed. 2 people were physically injured.

Here is what I haven't heard about in the media when it comes to school shootings - because they haven't been in my community. Local media reports very differently than national media. Listening to the people who were impacted - those stories don't make the news. And really shouldn't, I suppose.

When these shootings happen, we jump to "don't give the shooter any attention, don't say his name" type of comments. I often agree. Until it happened here. I want to know who he is. I want to know who is parents are, if he has siblings. I want to know if they knew their child had problems that were pointing to the ability to take this kind of action. Because I look through my lens of parenting and I know that if my child were to shoot anyone, I would have a lot of questions. My kids have zero access to guns. I don't see any signs in my kids of problems that could lead them to violence. Did this child's parents know what was happening in his head and in his heart? I assume the kid brought the guns from home - but what if he didn't? Where did he get them? How did he learn to use them?

The kids from the middle school were bused to the high school. That part was reported. Parents had to wait a long time to pick up their kids because of the process of reuniting the right kid to the right adult.

Not reported in most media was that some little jerkwad kid at the high school thought it would be funny to text in a bomb threat at the high school. Again - I want to know who that kid is and if the school and his parents knew that he had the potential for this kind of trouble. Because that stupid threat created an even more terrifying situation as the high school and all the kids who had been bused over went into "code red" lockdown. Which means barricading classroom doors, hiding in closets and corners, sending terrified texts to your family and friends.

The kids who had just been bused to the high school because of a shooting inside their school are then in lockdown in a gym in a high school with most of their parents waiting outside to get to them.

The kids who go to that high school, who are on alert because they know why those middle schoolers are in their gym, are now terrified of what they imagine is about to happen in their school.

The middle school kids who were closest to the classroom where the shooting occurred - kids who witnessed their friend and classmate being shot, who witnessed their teacher fulfilling his promise to always protect them, kids and teachers who heard the gunshots and screams in the classroom next door, across the hall, nearby - ran out of the building and hid (as they are taught to do). I have a friend who is a bus driver in that district and she was picking kids up in her bus from the field next to the school. Kids who were scared and not sure what was going to happen next after running away to hide from a gunman - who then had to trust that she would be able to keep them safe, get them to safety.

Those kids from the middle school came to the high school gym and as the hours stretched on, those kids got hungry. The cafeteria stepped up and brought as much food as it could, considering they didn't expect to feed 2 schools that day.

Here is what will stay with me the next time there is a school shooting that makes the news - all of the ripples. While the Noblesville shooting won't stay in the media for long because no one died, it will stay as an impactful event on the community.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the teachers and administrators who stay in their classrooms and schools within that district, even though they have their own kids in the school where a shooting has happened.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the bus drivers who take traumatized kids to a safe place.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about all of the ways these kids and teachers are connected to their communities outside of the school. The other schools in the district, through churches, through sports, through gyms and community centers, through neighborhoods, through their local eateries, and so on. A school shooting doesn't just impact that school. It impacts the school district, the neighborhoods, the surrounding school districts and more. Just by virtue of being a resident of Indiana, people in other states heard about a shooting in Indiana and reached out to me to see if it had happened where my kids are located.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the kids in nearby schools who don't know what is happening, who aren't being given any information, but are clearly understanding that something has happened, the teacher is acting different, we are on "code yellow" and no one will tell me anything.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the parents who get the phone call to come to the police station rather than the hospital or school or pick up location.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about all the families at bedtime and all the kids who won't want to go to sleep. It's easy, from a distance, to assume that these kids are fine because they weren't hurt or they weren't in that building. But Friday changed so many children in so many ways. Children were introduced to a real level of fear that they hadn't truly ever understood before. And shouldn't have to understand. Adults get the concept of "upset person with gun has long term, serious, terrible consequences." Children don't. Which might be part of why they turn to a gun... I don't know.

I don't have answers. I do have questions. Questions that don't seem to have answers right now. Questions that maybe I don't even have words for right now.

My focus is just on how we get hurting people through a traumatic event. How do we move forward and convince our kids that the school is still a safe place? How do we calm parents as they send their kids to what should be a safe place? How does a community heal and how does each individual take part in that healing?