My heart is heavy for parents, students, teachers, first responders, and many, many people I don’t even know today.
My heart hurts for Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky.
Benton, Kentucky is about 120 miles from Nashville, Tennesee. Benton is also about 40 miles or so (southeast) of West Paducah, Kentucky. In 1997 a shooting occurred at Heath High school. Paducah, Kentucky is about an hour (give or take) from my home in southern Illinois.
That’s too close.
I’ve tried to avoid reading or watching reports of this horrific school shooting, but I’ve noticed that it is a little difficult to do so. I’ve watched people change profile pictures, update Facebook statuses and read a little of how close this hits to home for them as some of my friends went to this very school or knew of this community.
If you didn’t know, a 15-year-old armed with a handgun opened fire inside his Kentucky high school.
My daughter turns 15 on Thursday. Does she even think about guns? Would she know what to do with one?
No. I can’t even imagine how she would respond to something like this.
Students were going to school. A small town. In shock. Kids who planned on starting their Tuesday morning just like any other day did not get to do that. Some kids were taken to hospitals. Some kids didn’t make it home.
Chaos and hurt. Fear. I can’t imagine all of that happening at a school.
As a parent, this news makes me sick to my stomach. I worry about my kids every day. Even when they are at school, a place that should be safe and welcoming for them, not a place where gunfire erupts.
How many school shootings are going to take place in their lifetime? In their school careers? Will they read about these, hear about them from friends? Will they be fearful in their own schools?
I know people are probably hugging their kids a little tighter, cherishing little moments with them, and preparing to talk to their children about what has happened.
I think it might be a good idea to initiate a conversation–just because children or kids aren’t talking about a tragedy doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it or worrying about it. I guarantee you that my kids have sensed that I’m a little off, a little more quiet than usual. Maybe they are even overwhelmed by their own feelings.
Tragedy can rattle our sense of safety, and that of our kids. Talk about safety measures, remind them that they can ask you questions at any time.
Give your kids your full attention. Don’t judge or minimize what they are saying, but just listen. Find out what they know, or what they want to know.
Encourage your children to share their feelings. This has been so big for us in our home lately. Expressing feelings and listening have been essential in helping Caden overcome some of his anxiety.
As hard as it may seem, focus on the good. In our home, we make a list of things that make us happy, things that make us laugh, and things that we are thankful for. We talk about our days, good or bad, and we are there for one another.
And know, there still are helpers in the world. We look for the helpers. The ones who want to help. The ones who care and the ones who love.