Gun control is definitely a hot topic lately–everyone seems to have contradictory feelings, but one thing is for certain: Incidents of gun violence in the U.S. are escalating–and it’s scary. One Michigan mom’s viral photos of her 3-year-old showing off what she learned during a preschool lockdown drill illustrates this sentiment only too well.
Stacey Wehrman Feeley recently shared a photo of her toddler standing on top of a toilet seat in their bathroom. For many parents, funny things often happen with toilets and toddlers, so initially, Feeley was just amused, explaining in her Facebook post:
“Initially I thought it was funny. I was going to send it to my husband to show what our mischievous little three-year-old was up to.”
However, she realized what her daughter was actually doing a moment later, and described that sinking feeling of horror and sadness:
“The moment she told me what she was doing I broke down. She was practicing for a lockdown drill at her preschool and what you should do if you are stuck in a bathroom. At that moment all innocense of what I thought my three-year-old possessed was gone. [sic].”
Stacey started asking all the right questions, wondering what kind of compromises we can make to fix the gun violence that is so rampant right now:
“No one thinks gun control will be 100% crime control…Why on earth are there not universal background checks? Where is a universal registration database? Why are high capacity magazines ever permitted to be sold to anyone other than direct to the military?… What about smart guns, where are they?… NRA, are you even trying? Let’s talk mental health… Where is the access to care for those struggling with mental illness?
Banning together, signing petitions, and rallying to get your voice heard is good,” but it’s not enough. We need leaders to take action. We need swift and meaningful change to take place, because the threat of gun violence is quickly becoming a part of our kids’ daily lives.
Many public schools in the U.S. now hold some kind of lockdown drill throughout the year, and apparently many preschools do, as well. Just in having a conversation about this mom’s post within our office, we discovered three of us have preschool kids who participate in these drills. My four-year-old explained to me that hers are called “code red practice.” When I asked her why they do it, she said, “I don’t know, but they make us go in the boy’s bathroom and sit on the floor. Ewww.”
What makes this tragic is not just the fact that our kids are growing up in a world where they are constantly afraid of violence–or the threat of violence–but that they don’t even understand it. They know the lockdown drills, but can’t understand why there’s all this hatred–and why the adults in their lives are so helpless in the face of this massive problem.
When I was a teacher, I had to participate–and teach my students–lockdown drills in case an attacker came to our campus. As my students crouched beneath our large, old windows, I always wondered what I was actually teaching them. Was I teaching them to be afraid, to feel unprotected, to feel as if their lives were in their own hands?
As Feeley puts it, our politicians needs to take a look around:
“Politicians – take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren, your great grand children and future generations to come… They are barely 3 and they will hide in bathroom stalls standing on top of toilet seats… I am not pretending to have all the answers or even a shred of them, but unless you want your children standing on top of a toilet, we need to do something.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.