Thursday, January 19, 2017

Each day, I take my son to school. For just a few minutes every morning, we have time to ourselves to talk about what’s happening in his life, at school, with baseball, etc. In the years that he’s been in school, I have learned more about my son as a person in those minutes. He is open and honest and sometimes blunt about things that matter to him. I drop him off in the mornings in front of the school, tell him to have a good day, and tell him I love him.

Each day, as my son enters that building, I put my trust in his teachers and in the school district as a whole. For the better part of the day, my whole heart lies in the hands of the Grandview C-4 School District. For the most part, I don’t even think about what could happen during the course of a school day. But, I’m also not naive enough to believe that it couldn’t happen here.

Last week, I was given the opportunity to have a conversation with my son, and his response to my question took me completely by surprise. I asked him, pointedly, what he would do if he saw someone that had a gun in their backpack. He answered that if he knew the gun was unloaded,
he probably wouldn’t say anything. He wouldn’t say anything. My son, who has honest and difficult conversations with his parents, who has practiced gun safety and understands their dangers, who is a
straight-A student and has great relationships with authority, probably wouldn’t say anything. To say I was shocked is an understatement. His lack of concern and willingness to look the other way obviously prompted further discussion from this parent.

Last week, I spoke with administration from a school district who had just witnessed an incident that could have been tragic, and could have been prevented, if someone would have spoken up. They discussed their plans to begin conversations with students, to open up a dialog with parents, to create an environment where students do not tolerate weapons of any kind in their learning environments. I nodded along, eagerly receptive to their ideas and concerns. All the while, my own son probably wouldn’t tell anyone.

As a community, we have to figure out a way to keep guns and other weapons out of the hands of our kids. As a community, we have to be better than this. We are better than this. Our kids deserve better. And our kids need to understand the severity of the consequences, the long-term effects this could have on the lives of those involved, and the impact for change that they can have on a situation. The conversation needs to start at home. We’re talking about it in my house, and we will continue to do so until I’m comfortable with the responses I receive from my own son.

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