As difficult and unfortunate as it is to accept as a parent these days, the reality of gun violence in schools is something we're dealing with as a nation far too often. A reoccurring nightmare on the evening news showing scenarios we can't even begin to process, no matter how many times we see similar scenes play out.
I know I can't even describe the recent heartache I felt rushing to my boy's elementary school to drop off a forgotten backpack last month and having to sit outside of the office for nearly an hour while the administration ran through a series of protocol during a campus wide "lockdown drill." Designed to ensure teachers are well equipped to safeguard their classroom within a matter of seconds, on high alert, and children shown how to properly react in the face of such a terrifying threat. In my day drills consisted of simple duck and cover during earthquakes, while my children are learning how to hide from guns, in a place they should feel safest.
In partnering with Sandy Hook Promise, a cause dear to my heart as a parent, I was asked to help spread light on some of the vital warning signs leading up to gun violence in schools by sharing this short and powerful film highlighting early evidence of mental illness or distress, that too often goes overlooked. In doing so, I'm hoping we might help open eyes and ears to the unsettling mindset behind these kinds of attacks, reminding us to be more awake and in tune to our surroundings, as well as talking to our kids about the devastating effects of bullying before real damage is done, working to instill an early sense of empathy, insight, and vigilance, in whatever environments they inhabit.
For me, it was also a good reminder of how I need to make sure I keep the lines of communication open, especially during the more fragile teenage years, so my kids feel comfortable coming to me when they do see things that find concerning in any way. Communication, as always, being the key component here.
The Sandy Hook Promise website offers plenty more insightful tips and information on how to spot and treat these early warning signs to help aid mental illness before it becomes another tragic statistic. In which I strongly suggest you have a look.
This post is in partnership with The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation