Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How Do We Keep Our Children Safe?

Since it's my day off today, I've had the television on pretty much all morning. I've been watching/listening to the coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. So extremely sad! There's also a bomb scare going on right now at Bethel Park High School in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. My friend's daughter attends that high school. Scary stuff!

All of this happening with our youth frightens me. How DO we keep our children safe? It's not an easy task. We have so much more to worry about with our children than our parents did with us. My Mom gives me grief sometimes because she says that Allison should be outside more than she is to run off all of her energy. I agree but I can't leave her go outside by herself. It's not like when we were young. My best friend, Susan, and I used to get on our bikes and ride half way to each other's house. We lived a little over a mile apart. We would meet at the local little store and go to the playground behind the elementary school. We would show up for dinner hours later and it was no big deal. I bet neither one of our Mothers would allow us to do that in this day and age. I don't even allow Allison to walk outside to the car unless I am with her. You just never know what or who is out there waiting to do your child harm. Maybe I sound a little overprotective. Maybe I am. I've waited this long for Allison to come into my life and I am not about to let anything happen to her. Poor child. When she goes to college, she has no idea that I am going back the same one she attends. We can be roommates together in the dorm! Seriously, it's my biggest fear that harm will come to her.

I had not planned on sharing this here but with what has happened at VT, I feel it's appropriate. A few Fridays ago Allison got off the bus and immediately started crying to our babysitter. Our babysitter is a sweet 76 year old lady that lives two townhouses down and who Allison just loves. Audrey asked her what was wrong and she said that "John" (not his real name) told her that he was going to shoot her in the head and kill her. She said that she "didn't want to die" and that she wanted "to go to 1st grade." Ya, can you believe it?!? It gets better. "John" is in 6th grade! He is more than twice my daughter's age. Unbelievable! Not something I expected when we sent Allison to a Christian school. This same boy told her 3 weeks prior to this incident that he was going to staple her mouth shut! We had a discussion with Allison about that and then the next week, he told her that he wished she was dead and now this! I immediately call the principal but he was out. I spoke to the secretary and told her what happened. I told her that I would talk to the principal on Monday. Curtis ended up going in late to work on Monday and went to the school in the morning to talk to the principal. We know Allison is a fire ball but nothing she could have said could justify the death threat! As luck would have it, we both were back at the school that evening for a parent/teacher conference. He talked to us about his findings. The bus driver had heard John say this and backed up what Allison had reported to us and the principal. He had actually acted upon it to the best of his ability when it happened. The principal told us that John did admit to it but said he was just kidding. I'm sorry but we had to take it seriously. How do we know that there isn't a gun in a closet at his home that he could hide in his backpack? Our school has a security system but not metal detectors. It's scary. VERY scary! John ended up getting an in school suspension and lost his bus privileges for a week. The following week, Allison didn't say anything about the bus ride and we didn't ask. We didn't want to stir up those feelings in her again. She was genuinely afraid when it happened. Kindergartners tend to believe everything someone tells them. Anyway, I picked Allison up from school on Wednesday and the principal was at the door and asked me how the bus ride was going. I told him that she had not said anything and we didn't ask. He said that John ended up losing his bus privileges for the rest of the year. I asked if he had done something else and the principal said no. He shared with me that after more thought he felt that the additional punishment was appropriate. THANK YOU Mr. Principal! I'm so happy that it is as serious to them as it was to us.

Out of every experience there is a lesson. One of the lessons that I learned out of this is that I will act upon the first comment the next time. If I had acted when he said that he was going to staple her mouth shut, I would have spared Allison the fear and insecurity that she experienced.

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Jolene George said...

It certainly isn't like when we were children. It's a scary world out there and it makes me sad that our kids can't have the freedoms we did.
I'm so glad the principal took care of the matter. It's too serious not to.

Leonore said...

I am so glad that the school took the threat seriously and acted on it immediately! {{{{{Allison}}}}} I hope the rest of the school year is uneventful for her.


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