This week a group of first graders told their teacher during a lockdown drill that they would lock the door with their tiny bodies “to keep the bad guy out”. His courage is striking against the Congress which is unable to reconcile the same tenacity.
Anthony Borges took this exact action while saving the lives of his teacher and classmates in Parkland. This is the same shocking scenario and unconscious calculations being contemplated by teachers across the country – can a barricade, a hiding place, be an escape route?
In response, President Trump has suggested that we need to “harden up” our schools by arming teachers like ourselves with guns. But we and many of our colleagues have a better idea: Instead of arming teachers with weapons of death, provide us with tools that help students move forward.
Arm us with resources. Our schools are truly the home of the future: the legislators, artists, teachers and parents of tomorrow. What could be more important than ensuring that teachers have access to the resources we know will help these students stay safe and healthy?
It’s time to listen to teachers who have used the hashtag #ArmMeWith on social media to advocate for the resources our schools really need: counselors, school psychologists, meal programs, smaller class sizes, pieces of paper .
When we’re talking about resources, let’s look at the President’s proposed budget. Instead of spending money on bonuses for take-away teachers, the president should reconsider proposed cuts that would further undermine efforts to prevent gun violence and support school safety.
Arm us with stronger gun laws. We are taking a lot of kids away from gun violence in America, and it’s not just happening inside schools. According to a report in the Journal of Pediatrics, an average of 25 children under the age of 17 die every week in the US from gun violence. Young people, especially young black men, are adversely affected by gun violence.
Children who were not victims of bullets carry the burden of this trauma even today. One of our students recently expressed his anger over the death of a friend in the neighborhood. His pain was evident, but his tone was resigned. He had seen this before. Teachers across the country, especially in communities that suffer more violence, see the lasting effects of trauma every day.
An act of violence takes away a piece of you and peace from you. We cannot continue the debate on violence against students without recognizing the violence that is taking place within the victimized children. Adverse childhood experiences have a lasting impact on students’ cognitive and emotional health.
If we value the lives of children, we will work to protect them from the trauma caused by bullets aimed at them and gun violence in their communities. Equip us with common-sense gun laws that will protect children: Improve universal background check systems, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, support community-based violence reduction programming, ensure domestic Abusers do not have access to guns and free ups and fund the CDC to research gun violence as a public health issue.
Brace us with your support. A school shooting is too many; The phase we are currently going through is a nightmare. But there is energy and momentum to make our country safe, much of it borne by those whose lives are directly at stake in these acts of violence: students and teachers.
We applaud those with the courage and conviction to disrupt the status quo and take a stand for changes in laws. More Americans need to step in for our kids. Don’t watch others and wait – march for it, demand it and ask your board of education and superintendents to take action too.
Our kids – including six-year-olds planning the “bad guy” – are begging us to do something different this time. As 17-year-old Parkland survivor David Hogg put it, “We’re kids. You guys are adults. Work together, get on your politics and do something.”
Our schools are meant to be sanctuaries of nurture and growth, grace and peace. We must resist the move to focus the debate on putting more guns in schools. The answer is no more guns in; It’s less guns out there, coupled with the efforts of teachers and supporting children’s lives.