What To Say Today

Back to school for the last week of the 2012 year. 

What did you tell your children?  What do you hope your child's teacher does (or does not) say to your child?  Should they say anything or is that your job as parent?

What about older students?  Is gun control an issue that high school students should consider in their history or civics classes?

What do you think about what Sandy Hook Elementary had in place (which, sadly, did not work).  Namely, locking all the doors after a certain point and people had to be buzzed into the building.

What about arming every principal?  That was one suggestion I read (although it would make the office and the principal a first target for anyone thinking of attacking a school).  

Here's a good article from the NY Times on this subject.

From SPS communications on talking with your children.


Eric B said…
I'm kinda hippie on this, but guns as self-defense do not belong with anyone who is not heavily trained in using them. Otherwise, they're a bigger danger to the people who have them. If the principals are all armed, what happens to those guns? What are the chances that the gun safe or trigger lock is left off sometime? Is a principal really going to be able to take out an attacker, or are they like most people who have guns for self-defense who hesitate and get killed with their own gun?

Way too many questions. And I can't see sending principals to police training.
A Dose of Reality. said…
Last year Seattle Public Schools expelled 181 students for carrying weapons. Thirty of those weapons were firearms.

I wish I could tell my children that they are safe at school. Given the above numbers, I can't.
A Dose of Reality said…
I need to be a bit clearer. Last year SPS expelled 181 students. I can't say all were for carrying weapons, but 30 WERE for carrying firearms.

The question remains: How many students were carrying weapons that did not get caught?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous, you need to give yourself a name but I'll reprint your query.

"Anyone want to share what they told their 1st grader? I didn't tell mine; can't find the right words."

I urge you to talk to your child because OTHER children will have heard and will talk. And your child will wonder what it means and you might want to be the one to tell him or her (and not some 5th grader).
CT said…
If only the mom had had a gun to stop this whole thing to begin with! Oh...wait....

The armed principal thing scares me. Kansas now allows guns on K-12 campuses. What happens if some gun happy parent gets mad at a teacher and decides to pull out his concealed carry and blow them away? What happens if a kid gets a hold of a teachers’ gun? You don’t solve gun problems by adding more guns.
Anonymous said…
On Friday, when our children came home we spoke to them right away. Because they are different ages, we had separate conversations. My husband and I agreed on what we would say before we talked to them.

Our 7 year old was first - we asked him if had heard anything at school about the children who had been hurt at another school. He said no. Then we said that an awful thing happened today in a school in connecticut. A very bad person came and killed some of the children and teachers. That the teachers did everything they were supposed to do and kept most of the children safe. And that at his school, his teachers, principal and parents are doing everything we can to make it as safe as it can be. That is why they do drills at school so be sure to pay attention in those drills. He had wide eyes, listened, and gave us hugs. We said we really want to know if he has more questions or wants to just talk more about it, anytime. More hugs, agreement and he went back to legos. I anticipate more questions today after a day at school.

For our 11 year old, same conversation but a little more detail. She had read the note home from the district that was in her folder so knew something was up. We told her the children were shot and how many. And about the heros that were teachers. And again about the efforts at her school to keep them all safe. We also stressed that she not share these extra details with her brother and that if she has more questions, come to us. I know we will talk more today as well because as a 5th grader, I'm sure she will hear more at school.

So - only the details necessary, letting them know that all that can be done is being done to keep them safe, and to come to us with any questions, fears, etc.

We happen to have a PTA meeting tonight at school, I'm sure school safety will be a topic of conversation

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
We talked to our high schoolers about it - they already were well informed when they got home from school thanks to twitter.

Our son did talk about it in his Marine Biology class and there was a pretty good conversation about an incident at Garfield back in the 80's or 90's that involved a gun fired into the commons (no one hurt, surprisingly enough). This teacher was present at the time and was a good resource for them to really think about what they would do in that situation.

I hate that our kids are having to live in the kind of world that this discussion is necessary.

I am the daughter of a retired law enforcement officer and have siblings that are currently in law enforcement. I know what it is like to grow up with guns in the home, and frankly we never would have touched them as we knew there would be hell to pay. However, they were never, ever in sight when we were younger and thankfully no member of our family had mental illness that we had to consider.

Frankly I found it shocking that the mother of the shooter had several guns in her possession when she had a son that was struggling with some issues (however - I have never heard of Aspergers resulting in a violent pattern of behavior - so maybe there was something else that was a factor...)

After the Colorado shooting - I had a long discussion with my dad re: how someone is able to stockpile ammunition and guns in such a short amount of time with no one noticing and he said that background checks are conducted by so many different entities and none of them talk to each other. There should be one Federal database that would notice someone buying 40 rounds here and 40 rounds there in a short amount of time.

In addition - the time has absolutely come to reinstate the assault weapons ban -- it is ridiculous that those weapons are allowed in this country. Totally not necessary for hunters and complete overkill for safety.

We need to enforce the laws that we have and take common sense measures to reduce the inventory of guns - legal and illegal - in this country.

My two cents...

-GHS Parent
Know this - we track Sudafed more than bullets. One national database for Sudafed but guns and ammo? Not so much. Background checks? Not at private gun shows.

Thank you GHS parent for your input based on experience.
mirmac1 said…
The idiot media wants to brand kids with Asperger's as somehow "out of control"


and 60 Minutes. The same dude in the Times article was barfing out misinformation to Scott Pelly. The latter just nods his head, doesn't question this ignoramus' questions. Perect, more intolerance of those with ASD
RosieReader said…
When the Twin Towers were destroyed we told our then 4 and 6 year old that there were bad people, and they had killed a lot of people in new York City so everyone was really sad. We completely shielded them from images, or so I thought. A couple of years later I learned that my younger one's day car provider had the TV on that day.

We do our best finding a way to tell our kids this sort of thing, or to shield them from it. But it's not 100% in our control. .
Anonymous said…
We talked to our kindergartener about it because we figured he would likely hear about it at school from bigger kids on the playground or at lunch. We kept the conversation very short and non specific and made sure to focus on reassuring him that school is a safe place. The questions he asked were "why did this happen" (we told him we don't know, and a lot of people are asking that question right now) and "can we go visit the grave of the teacher someday."
Someone said…
Ohhhh I struggle with this one. I have a weird job that requires me to keep up to date on news events but Friday? For the first time I had to walk away from the computer and can't read the stories on this. My 15 year old heard via the friend's parent who gave them rides home on Friday - she went to the core immediately - why are assault weapons legal? The Portland incident where a girl her age was injured had me already thinking - but truly, I had no good answers because I have the same question. I'm working on a letter to every official I can think of - one more small voice to end this insanity - I wish I knew what more to do frankly... Someone
Po3 said…
mirmic1 - I read that article and nowhere does it say the child was out of control due to having Aspergers.

mirmac1 said…

This is but one of many media accounts that inaccurately associate ASD with mental illness, violence, etc. The fact it's on 60 minutes last night and the Times today, just perpetuates the intolerance and fear of those with ASD.
I think the issue is confusion over what is a mental illness and what is a neurobiological disorder.

No matter - easy access to guns is a problem for us all.
Po3 said…
thought it was a heartfelt article that gave some insight into this mothers struggles and how she found a place where whe could step away from her responsibilities. I don't see any judgements here?

So, sorry mimric, I just seeing the association you seem to be making here, at least in the story. I did not see the 60 Minutes.
seattle citizen said…
@Rosie -
"my younger one's day car provider had the TV on that day"

I know everyone was in shock and not thinking too rationally then, but I would hope that that day care provider has since figured out that some things just aren't appropriate for some ages of children. As we have seen here, and in various venues in the media, different ages can handle different things. Of course we can't shield children children in this day and age, but hopefully those entrusted with the care of our kids can act appropriately.

That said, tho', I'll reiterate that I understand 9/11 was such a colossal event it probably had everyone not thinking straight, and most likely glued to media.
Anonymous said…
This is but one of many media accounts that inaccurately associate ASD with mental illness

The two are not the same, but there is a high co-morbidity of mental illness like anxiety, and bipolar, in Asperger Syndrome. Everyone is an individual. I didn't read anbody blaming the Aspergers for the crime.

Another parent
Anonymous said…
Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown


LAST Wednesday night I listened to Andrew Solomon, the author of the extraordinary new book “Far From the Tree,” talk about the frequency of filicide in families affected by autism. Two days later, I watched the news media attempt to explain a matricide and a horrific mass murder in terms of the killer’s supposed autism.

It began as insinuation, but quickly flowered into outright declaration. Words used to describe the killer, Adam Lanza, began with “odd,” “aloof” and “a loner,” shaded into “lacked empathy,” and finally slipped into “on the autism spectrum” and suffering from “a mental illness like Asperger’s.” By Sunday, it had snowballed into a veritable storm of accusation and stigmatization.
Whether reporters were directly attributing Mr. Lanza’s shooting rampage to his autism or merely shoddily lumping together very different conditions, the false and harmful messages were abundant.
Let me clear up a few misconceptions. For one thing, Asperger’s and autism are not forms of mental illness; they are neurodevelopmental disorders or disabilities. Autism is a lifelong condition that manifests before the age of 3; most mental illnesses do not appear until the teen or young adult years. Medications rarely work to curb the symptoms of autism, but they can be indispensable in treating mental illness like obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

... continued

Anonymous said…
continued ...
Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown


Underlying much of this misreporting is the pernicious and outdated stereotype that people with autism lack empathy. Children with autism may have trouble understanding the motivations and nonverbal cues of others, be socially naïve and have difficulty expressing their emotions in words, but they are typically more truthful and less manipulative than neurotypical children and are often people of great integrity. They can also have a strong desire to connect with others and they can be intensely empathetic — they just attempt those connections and express that empathy in unconventional ways. My child with autism, in fact, is the most empathetic and honorable of my three wonderful children.
Additionally, a psychopathic, sociopathic or homicidal tendency must be separated out from both autism and from mental illness more generally. While autistic children can sometimes be aggressive, this is usually because of their frustration at being unable to express themselves verbally, or their extreme sensory sensitivities. Moreover, the form their aggression takes is typically harmful only to themselves. In the very rare cases where their aggression is externally directed, it does not take the form of systematic, meticulously planned, intentional acts of violence against a community.
And if study after study has definitively established that a person with autism is no more likely to be violent or engage in criminal behavior than a neurotypical person, it is just as clear that autistic people are far more likely to be the victims of bullying and emotional and physical abuse by parents and caregivers than other children. So there is a sad irony in making autism the agent or the cause rather than regarding it as the target of violence.
In the wake of coverage like this, I worry, in line with concerns raised by the author Susan Cain in her groundbreaking book on introverts, “Quiet”: will shy, socially inhibited students be looked at with increasing suspicion as potentially dangerous? Will a quiet, reserved, thoughtful child be pegged as having antisocial personality disorder? Will children with autism or mental illness be shunned even more than they already are?
This country needs to develop a better understanding of the complexities of various conditions and respect for the profound individuality of its children. We need to emphasize that being introverted doesn’t mean one has a developmental disorder, that a developmental disorder is not the same thing as a mental illness, and that most mental illnesses do not increase a person’s tendency toward outward-directed violence.
We should encourage greater compassion for all parents facing an extreme challenge, whether they have children with autism or mental illness or have lost their children to acts of horrific violence (and that includes the parents of killers).
Consider this, posted on Facebook yesterday by a friend of mine from high school who has an 8-year-old, nonverbal child with severe autism:
“Today Timmy was having a first class melt down in Barnes and Nobles and he rarely melts down like this. He was throwing his boots, rolling on the floor, screaming and sobbing. Everyone was staring as I tried to pick him up and [his brother Xander] scrambled to pick up his boots. I was worried people were looking at him and wondering if he would be a killer when he grows up because people on the news keep saying this Adam Lanza might have some spectrum diagnosis ... My son is the kindest soul you could ever meet. Yesterday, a stranger looked at Timmy and said he could see in my son’s eyes and smile that he was a kind soul; I am thankful that he saw that.”


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