Teachers ask in gun-soaked America: How many 6-year-olds can hide in a closet?
To the editor: Each year I play a game with my 6-year-old students called, “Who can be the quietest in our closet?” Our class is lucky, because we have a closet attached to our room. (“National suicide plays out one murderous mass shooting at a time,” editorial, May 24)
Twenty-six little bodies sit quietly in the dark for about nine minutes after they’ve watched their first-grade teacher make barricades using classroom furniture. I have them watch me flip and move tables, push cubbies in front of the doors, tie straps to prevent doors from opening and do whatever else I can do to keep them protected.
I do this in hopes that if we ever had to do this for real, they would stay calm and not panic.
When we are in the closet, we sit and I tell them we’re playing a version of hide-and-seek. When they ask why are we practicing this drill, I tell them it’s because we don’t want whatever bad is happening outside to get into our “safe” classroom. As we sit in the dark in silence, I am comforted that most are too young to understand the real reason for this drill, and I pray for their safety.
How many more children need to die at school before U.S. senators decide it’s time to finally do something? School is supposed to be a safe place for our innocent children.
Allison Rice, San Jose
To the editor: I work in an elementary school as a speech therapist. On Tuesday, I went into my classroom and cleaned out cabinets. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that if there ever were a shooting on my campus, I would be able to fit students inside.
I thought about how I could take out the shelves and maximize the space to fit as many kids as possible, as quickly as possible. I thought about whether I would hide under my desk or try to take down the shooter. I thought about it in a very pragmatic way, nothing dramatic, just trying to figure out logistics.
That’s where we are. That’s where America is.
Personally, I don’t believe anyone should have access to guns. If there were no guns, then I wouldn’t have to do mental gymnastics trying to figure out how to hide 5-year-olds in cabinets to save them from being shot.
Kacky Brown, Santa Monica
To the editor: Again, we mourn the killing of kids attending school. While studying anthropology years ago in college, I came to understand that one of the main functions of a civilized society was the protection of children. Therefore, I pose that the United States is not a civilized society.
As an educator, I am amazed that the fact that almost all perpetrators of mass shootings at school sites are students who are “loners” — ones who are outcasts or are bullied — is often minimized or ignored. Having been in education for nearly 55 years, I have dozens of anecdotes that relate to this.
One such story involved a 15-year-old student who was incessantly bullied during their junior year at a local high school in the gym shower room. This student finally decided to protect themselves by grinding an old screwdriver into a point and taking it to school. Due to a chance meeting with a physical education teacher, the weapon was confiscated and the administration moved the bully to another P.E. period.
All schools must have strong anti-bullying policies. Currently, I am a school board member who always fights for strong and strict anti-bullying regulations. More importantly, I was the above bullied student.
Bobbi Bruesch, Rosemead
The writer is a board member of the Garvey Unified School District and an inductee of the National Teachers Hall of Fame.