Helping Young Ones Feel Safe in These Uncertain Times
“Drop!” shouted my 5th grade teacher. Immediately, all 34 of us dropped to our knees, under our desks. This happened the first Friday of every month as a result of something called “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” At age 10, even though we didn’t know much about the crises, we did know that danger lurked if we failed to drop when told to do so.
Today, although drop drills are mostly a thing of the past, we have preschool children participating in “live shooter” drills. A live shooter drill involves a stranger coming onto campus with a toy weapon and pretending to shoot the children. This developmentally inappropriate practice is more likely to cause young children to become incredibly anxious, with some showing symptoms of PTSD.
As an educator, I can’t influence policy in schools other than my own, but I can encourage parents of young children to take a few simple steps to help their young ones feel safe and secure. The most obvious and easiest thing to do is to simply turn off your television and radio when young children are around, and avoid discussing world affairs in their presence.
Secondly, since young children feel safe when their environment is predictable, try to maintain the same household routine as always and the same daily schedule.
Thirdly, insist that young children (birth to age 8) are not exposed to conversations about potential threats of violence while at school. Discourage the use of “live shooter drills.” If the school or daycare center won’t budge on this matter, ask to be given 24 hours notice of a pending drill, so you have the option of keeping your child home.
Early childhood is a time for play. It’s that time in a child’s life when free exploration of the environment is essential. Young children need opportunities to enjoy fantasy play without a care in the world. Implementing these drills will only rob our keiki of their sense of security, and may cause irreparable harm to their psyches. Let’s stand up for our keiki and demand a more rational and pragmatic approach to the problem of violence in our society.
Paul Singer became Head of School for Assets Center for Learning in 2008. He brings with him tremendous credentials, decades of educational leadership, and firsthand experience with the frustrations that bright children with learning challenges face. He holds a B.A. in Sociology, an M.A. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education, and an M.A. in Educational Administration and Supervision, all from CSUN. In addition, he completed doctoral coursework in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Southern California.