Do We See Them?

National school shooting threat challenge

Yesterday, December 17th, became a day of anguish when word spread of a TikTok school shooting and violence threat challenge. Police were on alert around the country and parents, teachers, and students had the threat of the unimaginable grip them for the day. Many did not attend school out of fear they would come to regret not taking it seriously. Some schools closed for the same reason.

Headlines quoted officials deeming it bogus or unfounded while others focused on being on high alert and adding more police presence. Students across the country did indeed post threats on their social media and investigations led to suspensions and arrests for some. Others were deemed unsubstantiated.

The day ended and the weekend began – what now?

We were Blessed to make it through the day without a school shooting in the news. The school week is over and the conversation dies down. But is that where we leave it? If we do, we miss some important insights we need to see. What was the impact and what do we do with it?

The Anguish…..

Of the parents…this is the world they are having to raise their kids in. Our society has gotten violent enough that it is in the schools themselves. They are no longer a “safety zone”. How do they keep their minds on the work they do, when something like this happens?

Some parents made the decision to keep their kids home. Some had to work and sent them feeling like a horrible parent. Others refused to give in to the “hoax” and forced their children to go not wanting them to be a victim of the fear itself. Others simply did not know when they sent them to school. Each choice having it’s own impact.

For those who decided to keep them home, your actions spoke to your child, but the conversation needs to be a center of honest connection. The reality of the danger now exists for your child or children and expressing fears can be important. Don’t let the topic fade, Monday will come soon enough and the fears may not subside. Talk it out, and make sure they know how much they matter to you. It’s better than regrets.

For those who felt they had no choice in order to work, conversation can mean everything in them understanding your position. They need to be reassured that they matter, and you need it for yourself as well.

For those who refused to give in to the “hoax” and made your children attend, do you know how they felt about it? Do you know the impact? Your purpose was to stand strong against fear, but have you taken the time to make sure it is not a reflection to them of a lack of caring about their safety? Those feelings wound more than the fear the threat brought out. They need to hear that they matter. They need to feel it. Now is the time to be vulnerably loving.

Of the students….who struggle to focus on spelling when their mind keeps running through the shooting drill practices. What type of stress does that make their bodies absorb? How do they define what’s important in their world? How do they feel and what do they do with it?

Some students knew the danger and refused to stay home to go in and help others they care about. That gives them a view of school as their potential battlefield for their life and they see themselves as a warrior wanting to defend. How well does that mindset work with understanding algebra or adjectives? Is this the new norm for them? What do they need to get through it?

Of the students forced to go that were suppose to stare down the fear they felt, did they wonder if anyone truly cared whether they lived or died? If the adult in their life didn’t see a risk the police and schools were seeing, how does that effect what they believe themselves about safety? Did the day empower them, because it didn’t actually happen, or was being the “sitting duck” for the day traumatize them? How do they sort out those feelings?

Of the students who found out while they were in school on Friday, how were they impacted by it? How did they spend the rest of the day having that knowledge? Who did they get to talk to about it? Have they been able to talk about it with anyone?

Family discussions are important when the topic is intense, and this is a big one in the impact it has. Long term damage can be reduced when there is a supportive and open family discussion and fears and emotions are safe to share. Love and connection are key components to healing.

Of the teachers….how do they give their full presence to a child who needs their attention when they can’t stop scanning the classroom like a parent at the beach knowing seconds will count if the worst were to happen? Their body has no choice but to absorb the stress. The next shooting drill will be painful. Who do they discuss their feelings with?

Of the ones who joined the challenge and put out the threats….

As well as the ones who considered it, what kind of anguish, hurt, and anger are they filled with? The why of it needs to be understood. They need to know they matter and their future can hold more than what they are currently feeling. They need our help in seeing light in their soul. They are sitting in a darkness we need to help them out of to prevent the tragedies of tomorrow. Don’t see them as evil, see them as tortured and learn why. In the world they are growing up in, we owe them that. They are not monsters, they are children that are hurting and they are part of our next generation.

News and social media posts need to be aware of the impacts of what is posted. Calling these threats unfounded, bogus, or not-credible minimizes the facts and impacts of the story. It’s insulting to those who went through it. The threats were real, even if they were not operational. Understand that as part of the story.

All of us can help by having a conversation with someone who really needs it. This threat was nation wide, you know someone who was affected. “Act as if what you do makes a difference, because it does.” William James. We are all in this together and we need each other.

Written by Melody Belliveau

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