Protecting your children in today's world
How did we even get here? I just read an article about how to protect your children in an active shooter situation. I hate that this is even a thing!
The world we live in
Seemingly every day lately there has been a news report about a mass shooting, stabbing, suicide bomb or terrorist attack. France, Belgium, Turkey, Germany, Iraq, Japan, USA ... all over the world. Living in New Zealand, we are far, far away from the troubles of the world - or we like to think so. I do take some comfort in the fact that our little country at the bottom of the Pacific does tend to get forgotten about sometimes. This is my 'get out of jail free' card when channel surfing inadvertently reveals another shocking news report to my wide-eyed children. It's all far away. Plus, the good guys always win, right?
When it all changed
Fourteen years ago, I can distinctly remember the moment I realised my children would grow up in a world that had changed. My partner and I had just returned from a two week road trip in North America. Our trip finished in New York, just seven weeks after 9/11. The city was on edge, emotional and broken. Each day we travelled through the tunnels to Manhattan we saw heavily armed police. Every time a fire engine passed by in the street, everyone would stop and stare silently, watching it go past, then go about their day, heads down. Ground Zero, still smoldering, was beyond words. We passed the thousands of messages, tributes and missing persons posters pinned to fences and walls, silent but with tears in our eyes for the families torn apart.
Just days before arriving in New York, I discovered that I was pregnant. Arriving back in the UK where we were living at the time, I can clearly recall sitting in the bedroom, staring out the window, consumed by a thought - the thought that my baby would never get the chance to live in a world that hadn't seen the atrocities of that day.
That's not to say that the world was perfect before that day. Far from it. Prior to 9/11, I had heard IRA bombs go off, been stuck in a tube train while a suspect package was investigated and kept in lockdown in an office because of a bomb exploding at the train station. It's just that it never felt like the whole world was on a downward spiral of hate - not back then.
Day to day criminal activity can often impact on our children. My kids have been in lockdown at their school a couple of times. Thankfully, they were just precautionary. Whilst we don't want to scare our kids, it is important that they always follow instructions in an emergency situation and so lockdown drills are commonplace in schools now.
A Michigan mum had the reality of active shooter situations brought home to her when she asked her daughter why she was standing on the toilet seat in the bathroom. Her child's response was a harsh reminder of the world we are passing on to our kids.
Although we certainly don't have a high threat level here in New Zealand, some of the suggestions made by Rachel Norman in her article about protecting kids during an active shooter situation are valid for any country and any emergency situation, including:
- Think about what you would do in an emergency situation BEFORE it happens.
- If a place or situation makes you feel uneasy, leave. Never doubt that mother's instinct!
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look, listen, and observe what is happening around you.
- When indoors, know where the exits are.
- Practice kid 'wrangling'. If you had to leave where you are right now with all of your kids, could you do it quickly? Who do you carry? Who can grab your hand and run? Can older children take younger ones?
- Know how your equipment works. Can you work like a ninja to get that five point pushchair harness off in seconds? Do you know how to quickly turn the sound off on your phone?
And most of all, teach and nurture your child's compassion, acceptance, empathy and kindness, in the hope that one day they won't have to teach their children how to survive a terrorist attack or active shooter situation.
This article was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.
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