I really want to be one of those bloggers who can stay away from third rail issues entirely. Who can paint a just-personal-enough-but-still-murky image of herself online so that I will “keep my audience net wide” and not scare readers away and all the other things that people who are experts in this digital space tell me to do. But I can’t.
Like you, I hate what’s happening in our country with gun violence. Like you, I am sickened to my core at the thought of yet another innocent group of parents and children (what we all boil down to, when all is said and done).
But maybe not like you–or perhaps just like you–I think our gun policies need to change. Yesterday.
I’m not here to argue specifics, because every time I bring up this topic, I face a deluge of comments that go something like, “But if we outlaw all high-powered assault rifles, the bad guys will still find a way!!!”
And maybe they would. Maybe they wouldn’t. But I’m okay standing behind my beliefs publicly, controversial issue or not.
Because of the fact that, over the last several decades our country has slowly morphed into a molten hot lava pool of hate, I have interviewed an expert on the topic of gun safety and children several times by now.
I am so passionate about getting solid information out to people on this issue because damn it, we keep needing it.
This issue matters to everyone, yes, but especially to parents raising children who have to know how to protect themselves (God help us) against potential worst-case scenarios, and still somehow maintain their innocence and trust in the greater world.
In short, we have our jobs cut out for us.
And as long as awful people are at work, we need information on not only how to protect our children and ourselves, but also how to speak with our children when said horrible things come to pass.
So today I am encouraging all moms and dads–whether you agree with stricter gun laws or not–to take a listen to an interview I did with an expert who talks about how to keep kids safe and more.
Dave Benson is a security expert who has worked in the Department of State, where he oversaw law enforcement training; as protective security for numerous foreign dignitaries and Secretaries of State; and in his latest job has founded a security firm which helps to develop and implement individual security plans for various groups and companies.
His advice is practical and, sadly, very necessary for all parents.
I’m distilling some of his safety tips below–the ones that deal with responding to an active shooter situation–but the interview is chock full of so much more, so do give that a listen as well.
Here’s What to Ask Your Child’s Principal
School is back in session. And yes, it’s okay to be “that parent” and ask what your child’s school’s Code Red plan is.
Dave says, “I advocate being an informed parent! Ask staff and teachers, ‘What emergency plans are in place? What drills are conducted, and how frequently are they exercised?’”
He adds there should also be multiple options for emergency response at your child’s school.
Tell Your Kids to Remember These Three Words, in this Order
Here’s what Dave says about different options for responses to emergency situations at schools: “If a lockdown is the only response policy in place, advocate an ‘options-based’ approach to extreme violence (such as an active shooter) which encourages ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’
[This can also be called] ‘Get Out, Hide Out, Call Out, Spread Out, Take Out.’ [They are] alternatives to simply locking down and waiting for first responders to arrive.”
And Teach Kids to Always, Always Trust their Gut
Often we don’t do it as adults, so you can imagine it’s also challenging for kids. But Dave stresses the point that we must teach our children to trust their feelings. Often, this can be the first sign that something is wrong.
“When seconds count, help is often minutes away. Therefore, we need to train staff and teachers and students to believe what they see and hear, and respond accordingly.”
Those are some practical takeaways you can use right away. But I really encourage you to listen to the whole interview I did with Dave. He’s a trove of information on safety.
We talk about things to do if you encounter an active shooter situation; how to protect yourself ahead of time (and if that’s even possible); the very big role that your gut instinct can play in protecting yourself and your children; and how to talk with our kids about violence in the least-disturbing way possible.
I sincerely hope this is the last time I ever have to write about this topic.
In hope (and with good information),