About a week ago there was a story in the local news about a third grade girl who was accidentally shot at her Bremerton elementary school. There was a loaded gun in her classmate’s backpack and when he slammed it down on a desk, it went off, striking the little girl’s arm and going through to her abdomen. She is in the hospital in critical condition with many surgeries ahead of her. The bullet is lodged near her spine and many of her internal organs have been damaged. It is truly a heartbreaking story.
As a former teacher and now a parent, it breaks my heart that this sort of thing happens at school. For me, school should be a safe place where children learn and laugh and grow. If this had happened in my classroom to one of my students, I would have been crushed. I don’t even know this little girl and I can’t stop thinking about it.
The real question here is: Why does a nine-year old have a .45 caliber handgun in his backpack?
The boy has been charged – with unlawful possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school, and third-degree assault. But, I feel like the real responsibility resides with his parents. Of course, kids need to learn from their mistakes and face actual consequences for their actions. This little boy made a very big mistake for which he needs to learn and understand. However, he is nine and from all that I’ve read, his home life is less than ideal, with parents that both have criminal backgrounds. They have done him no favors and I would guess that his life is no walk in the park.
Unfortunately, his choice to put a loaded gun in his backpack that day almost killed a little girl. A little girl whose life will never be the same. Her family will be forever affected, as well as the lives of all the kids and teachers in the classroom that day.
So, the real question is, how do we keep children safe at school? How do we make sure there are no weapons in backpacks? Are we doing all that we need to do? Shootings at school seem to be all too common these days throughout the country and it needs to be addressed.
When I was in the sixth grade, growing up in Northern California, there was a shooting at a local elementary school where the gunman showed up in the parking lot during recess and opened fire. He killed several students and wounded many others and then shot himself. It was a true tragedy and it still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.
I know that there are accidents and unfortunate things that happen in the world. I know that I can’t put a gigantic bubble around my kids when they are at school, but there needs to be something done to keep weapons out of our schools. Our kids need to be protected.
What do you think should be done? How can we ensure a safe learning environment for our kids?