I am really struggling right now and I just wanted to vent for a moment. Or more. I am just feeling so overwhelmed and so emotional about everything that has happened in the past couple months and I hate that I cannot come up with a solution that will make me feel settled. Back in October, a kindergartener at DD's school (DD is the same age, but the gir was in a different class) was brutally murdered in her home by her babysitter. The babysitter also killed her own son who was a couple years older. She stabbed her son 100 times and this little girl 50 times. It was horrendous. It happened just a couple blocks from where we live. I did not personally know the family, but I knew who the girl was and saw her at school drop-off all the time when I would take DD and pick her up. It was a really rough time, trying to explain this to a 5-year-old without giving her too much information and causing too much fear. DD did know that it happened in the girl's home by someone she knew, though, so we had to work hard to assure her that she is safe in our home. It was overwhelming and emotional and it rocked our community big time.
So when this Newtown shooting happened on Friday, not only did it cause emotional outburst just because of the horrific event that it was, it also resurfaced all the other emotions I had just gotten in check from this previous tragedy just a couple months ago. I am feeling very overwhelmed with fear and helplessness right now, and I am not sure what to do about it, I guess. It seems that school shootings are on the rise and it's getting worse. Sure there was a theater shooting and there was a mall shooting. So, yes, you can say that you honestly are not completely safe from random acts of violence any time you go to a public place. But, it seems schools are targeted more often than these other places. That terrifies me. Big time. Now that my daughter is in elementary school and not once, but twice we have had to emotionally process horrific murders, I am terrified for my kids. Schools were not like this when I was younger. This is a different world we live in now, and I am not sure how to prepare my kids for it... what to say or not say. I don't want them to live in fear, but I also don't want them to be totally naive either.
Newtown was not the ghetto. It isn't a place where you would typically be scared to walk around, it wasn't a place with drive-by shootings and murders like you'd find in some huge metropolis with sketchy areas. My town is a generally affluent area, too. We personally aren't rich by any means, though there are some very rich people that live in our town. It's got one of the top school districts in the nation. People often think of this town as being a "bubble". Your totally all-American town. Yet, we had two kids brutally murdered two months ago. In the past we also had a mother kill her three kids. A young man from my neighborhood (with drug problems apparently) got into a bar fight a year ago and stabbed a school teacher (from our town) and killed him. It does not matter where you live or how nice or safe your town appears... these things can happen anywhere. It's scary stuff. I used to feel SO safe when we first moved here. Now, not so much. It's not that I think my town is any less safe than anywhere else... it's just the image has worn off and now it's not the same place I viewed it as when we bought the house.
It is to the point where I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling the kids. I have never had an interest in homeschooling. Ever. I am a teacher, too. I like the social experiences offered at schools. I do believe in our school system. It's great. The programs are great. The teachers are great. But, I am just not feeling like my child is safe at a school anymore. It's not that I think that we should hide in our house all day. I get that things can happen anywhere... I just cannot get past this thought that while it *can* happen anywhere, it seems to be happening OFTEN in schools. And sure, schools can up security, but will that really help? If crazy man decides he is going to go shoot up a school, how is an extra locked door or a security guard going to stop him with his semi-automatic gun? He'll shoot the guard, he'll shoot the lock then he'll shoot anything he can until someone can get around to stopping him. Or what's to stop some gunman from showing up on the playground at recess when hundreds of kids are outside playing, completely out in the open? That's the reality. Gun laws or gun bans will not prevent it. There are "bad guys" all over this country with illegal firearms. Laws don't stop criminals from obtaining weapons if they want them. And if they cannot get the gun they want, they'll just choose a different weapon. I honestly thing this is an issue of mental health care, but it is going to take YEARS for us to fix that problem in our system. My point is just that if these insane people keep targeting schools, it makes me REALLY uneasy about sending my kids to school.
I am not sure what I can do to ease this constant feeling of fear. I realize that it is out of my control. That if it happens, it's in God's hands. But I also cannot help this feeling that I want to protect them, even if it means considering an alternative means for educating them. I am not LITERALLY looking up plans for homeschooling or anything. It's just a thought that crossed my mind in the aftermath of the tragedy this last week. When I mentioned it to my husband, he of course doesn't agree. Heck, I don't fully agree either! It's just the only solution I can come up with in which I feel somewhat in control over our kids' safety. I mean, the murders happened two months ago and I have not ONCE hired a babysitter for my kids since. Luckily our family members live close and are supportive and helpful, so they watch our kids for us. But if they are ever unavailable, we just don't go out. After what happened, I cannot bear the thought of leaving my kids with a babysitter. That mom did not see ANY warning signs with that sitter. She had no criminal history. She just up and snapped one day. Ugh. All this just makes me sick to my stomach.
I hate living in fear. I hate being out of control. While I realize that there is always the chance that something bad can happen to my children (not just school shootings, but in general), I just don't like the thought of putting them in a position where their chances are increased. I know I probably sound crazy. I probably sound like a helicopter mom or something. But, I really don't care how other people perceive it. I love my kids and I just cannot fathom something like that happening to them. I am not planning on pulling them from their schools at this point. I am just not sure what else I can do... but I feel like there should be something, anything I can do to increase their safety.
Anyone else feeling helpless and fearful?