February 14 marked the one-year anniversary of the Parkland school massacre. 17 people, including 14 students, lost their lives that day, and we as a country are still trying to heal from the shock and pain. Unfortunately, it's a shock and pain that we experience far too often. Our kids are growing up in a time where school doesn't always feel like a safe space; many students, parents, teachers, and administrators live in constant worry that their school is going to be next. In an effort to be prepared in the event that the unthinkable happens, schools all over the country have emergency lockdown procedures in place. Students have practice lockdown drills, and sometimes, have to go through the real think because of a potential threat. While these lockdowns are arguably necessary in this day and age, they certainly have a negative effect on our kids. One family in Delaware is dealing with the aftereffects of a lockdown which left their daughter shaken and afraid she wouldn't see her family again. This is absolutely heartbreaking.
Shelley Harrison Reed's kids attend a school in New Castle County in Delaware. About a week ago, their school went on lockdown after a bomb threat was called into the school. Thankfully, everything was fine and the lockdown was lifted after police checked and secured all the buildings on campus. Reed picked her kids up as usual, and her 10-year-old son Sean and 7-year-old daughter Vanessa seemed OK. She asked about the lockdown, but neither of her kids seemed upset by the event.
It wasn't until later when Reed noticed something on Vanessa's arm that she realized just how affected her daughter had been by the lockdown. The little girl had taken a purple marker and written, "Love Mom and Dad" on her arm. As Vanessa explained, she wrote it "In case the bad guy got to us and I got killed, you and Daddy would know that I love you". Vanessa began to cry, and Reed sat and cried with her. She says it felt like a punch to the gut. When her husband Jeff got home later and saw Vanessa's arm, he says he teared up. Jeff says, "I am the one who keeps her safe. She's Daddy's girl. That was a moment where I realized I had no control over her safety outside of my home".
It's sobering and distressing to hear something like this. Our kids shouldn't be afraid of dying at school, and our kids shouldn't feel the need to write goodbye messages on their arms in case they never see their parents again. This is one more way it feels like we are failing our children.