Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stranger Danger - Can we protect ourselves from the Adam Lanza mentality?

CNN blog "Dec 14, 2012 · 20 children, six adults and the shooter are dead after shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday..."

I work at multiple schools.  We, as teachers teach the children "Stranger Danger" (SD) drills to let them know the steps they must follow when there is a possible threat.  SD is a weak defense.  This is how it's done.

A message is sent over the loudspeaker alerting us of possible danger in or surrounding our school building. 

We account for our children.  Some may be in another location i.e., restroom, nurse's station, office, other classroom.  We hope they are being sheltered by another staff member.

We look up and down the hall to see if there are any stray children about.  These, we harbor in our rooms.

We lock our doors.

We cover any glass adjacent to our doors with paper.  This is so that the intruder can not look in.

Then, we instruct our students to huddle down quietly in the dark until the danger passes.

What's wrong with "Stranger Danger":

Our door locks need to be checked regularly to make sure they lock easily.  It's not uncommon for a teacher to waste minutes having to jiggle the key to get her door to lock or unlock.  Sometimes, the locks don't work at all.

Covering glass adjacent to classroom doors.  Imagine having to tape paper over the glass while your students are at a heightened level of excitement/panic.  Some schools have classrooms with large walls of glass.

We are not instructed to barricade the door or use any type of door jamming device.  A gunman can break into a classroom, if he really wants to.  The lock can be broken or shot off.  Violent persons sometimes have a revenge mentally.  They want pay back for some ill will that has been done to them. 

The "Stranger Danger" method needs to be revamped.  

Via Colori Street Painting 2012 
As our population increases, the chances of mass murders will increase.  There will naturally be greater loss of life at each incident, too. 

Two thoughts have been mulling around in my head:

     I agree, something needs to be done about the mentally unstable persons in our communities.  Perhaps, some type of daily computer monitoring.  But, let's take a step back and recognize that caregivers and others in contact with the mentally ill are most responsible.  I don't know what Adam Lanza's (mass killer) mother did to help her son.  I don't know what steps she took to help him.  Being a single parent of a child with mental issues is taxing.  Perhaps, she was doing the best she could, but that's the problem.  Those who knew Adam's issues and let things slide are at fault, if there is anyone whom we must point out.  Point out we must.  Not for revenge.  Not to appease our feelings.  Simply to try to change every one's thinking and actions - to educate, so that murders and suicides decrease.

    Gun enthusiasts must treat their privilege to bear arms with greater caution.  I think of how those in the medical profession must safeguard and be accountable for the powerful medicines they prescribe.  Other professionals, those who deal with dangerous tools, weapons, etc. are required to take measures to keep these instruments out of the hands of others.  These individuals face fines, prison time, and possible loss of license.  Why aren't civilians who own weapons held as accountable?  Perhaps if Nancy Lanza, gun enthusiast and mother of mass murderer Adam Lanza, had taken rigorous measures to store her weapons, twenty-eight people would still be alive today.

(I know there is more to say.  These are my elementary thoughts on a sensitive issue.)



  1. This is a well thought out post, Brenda, and I feel you will get many comments for and against the points you have made. I am no expert on gun control nor do I know what measures, if any, the shooter's mother did to ensure the safety of those around her. Unfortunately no matter what she did...or didn't didn't save her from being yet another casualty in another senseless shooting in our schools. I'm sure the debate will go on for some time and many fingers might be pointed in different directions as the victims' families and others struggle to make sense of this tragedy. For myself, it will be a long time before my own sadness will lift, but I believe as Julie Hedlund does...WE are the Guardians of the children's future. All writers who will use this time to help lift up the spirits of the children through our give them hope that one day they will be able to smile and laugh again...but never forget...

    Donna L Martin

    1. Thanks, Donna. I do agree that we are the guardian's of the future of all children. I like to include every adult when I say we. This is our responsibility as part of the human race. As a writer, I know that the impact our stories have on children is substantial. My intention has always been to bring love, peace, and sunshine into their lives.

  2. I appreciate you opening the discussion about how schools deal with these situations. I was a substitute teacher several years ago and I never received proper training on how to deal with an emergency situation. Each school was different. The school closer to the Texas-Mexico border did have a notebook, but there was little time to read this material in between reading the teacher's lessons/notes and overseeing the children. Just my opinion, but I believe you judge the mother too harshly. Yes, gun owners must be responsible, but I've never met a parent who could 100 percent control an adult child from using drugs, committing crimes or doing something the parents certainly would not allow. When I worked as a journalist, I heard so many stories where parents pleaded for help in the area of drugs, mental illness and learning disabilities. Little help existed in the past and as budgets keep getting cut, I fear even less help exits today. As more details are released and we are educated more about the realities of the murderer's family, we may learn lessons to help prevent future acts like this or how to help families, who need our help. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this. Talking about it, is a good way (for me anyway) to process my own thoughts. Thank you Brenda.

    1. Hi Stacy, thanks for commenting on such a tragedy. In reference to the mother, what I want to emphasize is that there are methods and materials gun owners can use to keep their firearms out of reach of others. There are locking devices with keys and safes with combinations. She had at least 5 guns in the house. Chances are, she kept them wirhin easy reach in case of an intruder. Something she may have been concerned about.
      When my children were young, I learned of one parent who kept a loaded gun on his mantle. I bet there were others. An elderly family member of mine kept 9 guns in her home scattered about. Some were loaded. She had lost count of how many there were.
      I knew someone whose son was killed when he began playing with his parent's gun. Another child was wounded. One of my own boys found his father's gun , pulled it apart and (thank God) wasn't able to put it back together again. This is how we learned our son had found the gun.
      I don't like guns. Not for target practice or anything else. I live in a culture that does. It's the owner's responsibility to keep his gun out of everyone else's hands be the one or 101 years of age.

  3. Lookin hood, Brenda. Soo fun, right? I use Sketchbook Pro on my ipad and laptop. Only about $5 on ipad and has a lot of great tools to play with.

  4. Thanks for letting me know Alison. I think I will purchase it, too. :)