As with every parent who heard the horrid event in Newtown, CT, my heart sank with grief. Losing a child to a senseless act of violence is the worse nightmare scenario for any Dad or Mom. Hopefully this will be the tipping point that will herald a new era of actions to mitigate mass shootings.
My eight year old daughter was missing. She had not come home from playing at her friends house two blocks away. We called her other friends in the neighborhood to see if she was with them. She wasn’t. Alarms went off in our heads. Sweetheart called the police to begin a search for her.
Nightmare scenarios started in our heads. Was she abducted? Oh My God – what horrible things would happen. Did anybody see her? How long did we have? Other ugly thoughts and feelings formed in our heads. Feelings of dread, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. The worse feelings in the world for parents.
Sweetheart got a phone call from her friend about one mile away. Our daughter was with her have tea. She had walked from her friends house to our home and had difficulty opening the door. In her eight year old head, she thought that Mum must be at her friends house. She decided to walk over, crossing two major intersections on her own. She was unaccounted for only one hour but it felt like forever. We cried with relief.
This was at a time when awareness about child abductions was growing. Sweetheart was a founding member of the local ChildFind organization and knew what actions to take. Time is of the essence in dealing with child abductions. Today we have Amber Alerts, child abduction alert bulletins, as a rapid response to the threat against our children.
In 1969, aircraft hijacking reached an all time high of 82 for that year. It was a growing threat that needed addressing. In response, pilots and flight attendants were trained on a strategy to deal with them. Some airline companies have air marshals on board. A passive approach worked well until the September 11 attacks. A revised more confrontational active approach of dealing with a aircraft safety threat has been instituted. The point is that skyjacking got to a tipping point where action was taken and continues to be refined as the threat changes.
I grew up during the cold war. The school I attended had nuclear bomb drills along with fire drills. Some schools have drills for tornadoes or earthquakes depending on where they are located. It is rational to develop response programs to real threats.
I hope that we are at the tipping point for action against gunman threats who attack our children. Let’s face reality that US gun laws will not change fast enough to prevent the next school assault by a crazed gunman. A determined person will always find a way to get weapons.
Losing our children to senseless violence demands action. It is our collective responsibility to see that nightmare scenes like Newtown disappear. There are enough examples where a rapid active response system to threats works. As ugly as it seems, schools and other institutions in which we entrust our children need to develop and implement them.