Speak On It: Fear in the Wake of Another School Shooting

Yet another school shooting in the United States. Today a high school in St. Mary’s County fell victim. On Valentine’s Day a shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida–considered the safest city in Florida. Seventeen people were killed during this tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School. I grew up in south Florida and still have many relatives there. Each school shooting hits home for me, as a mom and as a child psychologist. But this tragedy took me to a different place.

My oldest son is in kindergarten. His school had a lock-down drill the morning after the shooting. We were told they walked into class and were immediately thrust into the drill. With every word I read, I could imagine my son, huddled in a corner of his classroom, learning about what to do should this tragedy happen at his school. I became sick to my stomach. Chills ran down from the back of my neck to the tip of my spine. For whatever reason, my body was reacting as though it was not a drill. It was reacting as if my son was in the middle of a school shooting.

I had to close the email and step away. It was too much. Even though I am fully aware that at any moment either of my children may fall victim to horrible events that are beyond my control. But the realization that lock-down drills are now as much a part of his school routine as tornado drills were for me is troubling. I grew up in the era after bomb drills in schools so this is admittedly a scary time for me as a mom.

As with any event that shakes me to the core, I remind myself that my family is as safe as they can be. I remind myself that although these tragic events are occurring more frequently they are still infrequent and random. I make sure that I am not plugged into social media and news outlets excessively and I try to take time for myself daily to ground my thoughts and feelings. And eventually, the fear passes and becomes part of a running list of safety measures that are part of our new normal.

Also today a gunman was holed up in a Panera across the street from my alma mater, Princeton University. I just hate that we are living in an era where gun tragedies at schools are part of “regular life”.

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