"Mom, we had another gun drill today."

This is the first thing I heard when my daughter came off the bus today. As we sat down for an afternoon snack, I listened as she talked about her thoughts and feelings, her fears and concerns, related to this new normal we call school safety drills.

Gone are the days when students had to crouch under their desks or file into the hallway for a severe weather drill. Nowadays our children are told that violent intruders could be a serious threat. Nearly daily we have news reports of community gun violence. School shootings now are an unfortunate expectation in the culture we live in today.

Our role as parents is to protect them. What we often feel is helpless, but we aren't helpless. We can support our children by discussing with them their feelings and thoughts. A few questions can be helpful:

-What was it like to have to do that drill?

-What thoughts go through your head when you are doing the drill?

-What ways can you express your thoughts and feelings to your teacher?

-If you are upset, is there anyone you can talk to if mom and dad aren't there?

If your child has intense feelings of fear or overwhelm, go with them to the school counselor. They have special strategies and support systems in place for kids who are struggling.

It is easy as a parent to feel helpless over what we hear on the news about violence in schools. We can remember that actual acts of violence thankfully are exceedingly rare. Most school days are full of joy, laughter, learning. We can remember as adults we have voices and can use them at school board or township meetings or at the voting booth. We can also remember that the best way to be there for your child--is to physically, emotionally be present. When our children need to be heard, we make it a point to look them in the eye and take those seconds to truly hear them. When we value our children's voices, they can grow to use them for good.



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