By Robyn J. Bage
The shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 was a tragedy of immeasurable proportions. We will always remember the children and adults who died that day.
I will also never forget Saturday December 15, 2012.
When I walked onto the campus, I was struck by the eerie calm. There were none of the usual sounds of a bustling college. Every person I passed wore a dazed, shell-shocked expression as they meandered silently through the halls. In my classroom the students sat closely together, huddled in silence, apparently too anxious to sit in their regular seats but too wounded to engage with each other. When I walked into the room, their anxiety overflowed and poured out of them. Had I heard the news?
At first, they wanted to tell their stories. Several of them knew students, staff or faculty at Sandy Hook. Some had visited the school. Still others had ties to first responders, on the scene and in faraway places. Whether the association was close or distant, real or simply a feeling, the students’ emotions were genuine and profound. Many cried. Older students looked at me with hopelessness in their eyes as they tried to console their younger classmates.
Despair soon transformed into a myriad of heartbreaking questions. How could this happen? Who would want to hurt little children? Why aren’t kids safe in school? Is this school safe? What if one of us had a gun? What would happen if a stranger came in with one? Who can protect us?
Am I safe?
As their teacher, I usually have most of the answers. On this day, I had none.
My blog is not intended to be a political commentary. My words are neither in support of gun control nor against it. I am not casting judgment on our nation’s mental health system. However, I offer this inventory of recent shootings in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges:
Jan. 5, 2011 Omaha, Nebraska
Jan. 5, 2011 Houston, Texas
May 10, 2011 San Jose, California
Dec. 8, 2011 Blacksburg, Virginia
Feb. 10, 2012 Walpole, New Hampshire
Feb. 27, 2012 Chardon, Ohio
March 6, 2012 Jacksonville, Florida
April 2, 2012 Oakland, Calif.
December 14, 2012 Newtown, Conn.
•January 10, 2013 Taft, California
•January 11, 2013 Detroit, Michigan
•January 15, 2013 St. Louis, Missouri
•January 15, 2013 Hazard, Kentucky
•January 16, 2013 Chicago, Illinois
•January 22, 2013 Houston, Texas
•January 29, 2013 Midland City, Alabama
•January 31, 2013 Atlanta, Georgia
February 26, Conway, South Carolina
Our students deserve to learn in an environment where safety and security is an assumption, not a paralyzing fear or even a worry. Let us consider this list our call to action.