Oxford School Shooting

It has happened, a school shooting close to home. Oxford is probably an hour and a half drive from my house. A college roommate went to high school there. Another friend lives in that area. Like I said, too close to home. 

Anytime there is a school shooting is unbelievably sad, unimaginable even. Those who lost their lives shouldn’t have. Those who experience the trauma, by being there at the time, losing loved ones, or dealing with the aftermath, suffer. How do you move past something like that? How do you ever feel safe? Not only does it shake the lives of the community it happened in, but it also affects most who hear about it. 

As a recently retired teacher, I did the required training and many drills with my fourth graders. The fact that those drills are necessary is disheartening. Even the drills were tense and the discussion with fourth graders difficult. But, as we’ve seen time and again, it happens. School staff and students must know the plan so as many lives as possible can be saved in the event of the unthinkable happening. 

I will never forget the mock school shooting to train staff. When the intruder made it into the room, I felt panic, even knowing it wasn’t real. It is unfathomable that teachers have to be ready for incidents such as this, where you are responsible for keeping your kids safe, with a shooter running rampant in the building. I never imagined this would be commonplace when I began my teaching career. 

Now it has happened near my community. Watching the news, seeing the faces of the young victims is heartbreaking. The community pulls together to help deal with the grief. That is what communities do during times such as these. They help each other. They help those who need it. 

I have only been out of the classroom for a little over a year, yet this hit me hard. So many thoughts rolling through my head. So many things about teaching that the general public doesn’t know. So many friends are still in the classroom. 

As a teacher, your hands are tied when it comes to student consequences. We are living in a society where talking and using a variety of “discussion” programs is how problems are handled. Those problems typically continue and get worse over time. Don’t get me wrong, discussion and counseling are important, but I don’t feel they should replace consequences. Believe me, kids, even young ones, know the right answers when you are teaching these lessons. They rarely carry it into real life though. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. 

The government is part of the problem. The direction society has veered, another. Schools are also afraid to lose the money if they anger parents and they pull their child, even if that child causes daily problems. 

Those who are loud, nasty, and threatening get their way due to fear of repercussions. I wonder if this is why the shooter was allowed to stay at school with counseling in the works within 48 hours. 

Isn’t it interesting that fear of repercussions causes schools to let issues go? Then those students who have had no repercussions learn they can get away with their behaviors by saying what the adults want to hear. The cycle continues and in extreme cases, lives are lost. The system is broken. 

Broken systems lead to problems. Problems that won’t magically disappear. The Oxford School shooting brings these issues front and center again, yet without some change, things like this will continue to happen. I am praying for Oxford, for the families who lost their children, and for the world in general. 

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