Opinion | The Lingering Trauma of School Shootings | #schoolshooting

To the Editor:

Re “School Shootings Leave a Long Trail of Trauma” (front page, March 29):

The “long trail of trauma” sadly doesn’t just affect survivors of school shootings. It is affecting an entire generation of children who are growing up in the shadow of mass school shootings and lockdown drills — in ways that we cannot yet know or measure. It is also creating a generation of anxious and fearful parents.

I’m the mother of a 9-year-old girl. A few months ago I was driving my daughter to school when we saw a police car racing ahead of us and turning into the street on which her school is located.

“Mommy, is someone shooting people at my school?” she asked. My heart in my throat, I responded, “No, sweetie, someone is probably just being pulled over for speeding,” but inside, I was thinking the same thing.

My child has come home from school worried and scared about having to hide quietly in a corner with her classmates because they are practicing safety drills in case “a wild animal” comes into school.

Last year, the #ArmMeWith teacher movement went viral on social media when educators responded to politicians’ proposals that they be armed with guns and bullets by asking instead to be armed with everything from bullying prevention programs to more diverse children’s literature that explores empathy and resilience.

While we wait for gun reform legislation, we must do everything we can to arm our children and families — and educators — with tools to process their anxieties, fears and traumas. The more we talk about this subject openly, the more we can begin the collective process of healing.

Sandhya Nankani
New York
The writer is the founder of Literary Safari, which produces inclusive children’s media.

To the Editor:

As a family therapist who has treated trauma survivors and as a survivor of a mass shooting myself, I think we miss an important factor in helping the survivors of school shootings. How can they heal when they do not feel protected by those in charge of their country?

In May 1945, when I was 7 years old, my mother and I were on the Dam Square in Amsterdam celebrating the liberation of our city when German soldiers opened fire and more than 30 people were shot to death.

I was able to heal from the trauma, in part, because the Allies arrived and took charge.

But in 2017 television images showing torch-bearing neo-Nazis with swastikas in Charlottesville, Va., triggered old fears. Memories resurfaced of gunshots, of running for safety as people screamed and fell bleeding to the ground, and I suddenly wanted the presence of the Allies, who made a 7-year-old feel safe again.

Who are the Allies for the children today? Where are the American liberators who will remove the guns and make today’s schoolchildren feel safe?

Hendrika de Vries
Santa Barbara, Calif.

To the Editor:

Those quoted in your article fear the possibility of living through another incident. As a teacher who heard gunshots in two different school shootings, I grapple with that reality every day.

Four schools have experienced two incidents of gun violence between 1999 and 2018. Furthermore, there are the students for whom gun violence is a significant aspect of their neighborhoods and lives. Some shooting incidents occur just off campus or after hours, and these are not counted as “school shootings.” Thus the schools do not receive the same resources and support afterward.

In continuing discussions of gun violence in schools, we must expand our scope to acknowledge the struggles of many different individuals and communities.

Marjorie Foley Walsh
Scotland, Md.

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