As a dad, I wondered how to keep my kids safe from school shootings. I asked paramedics, soldiers, and even a spy, and here's what I learned.
I'm a dad of two who has taught family safety since the '90s.
When school shootings became more common, I wanted to know more about how to stay safe.
I suggest parents talk early and often to their kids about gun violence.
I've made my living teaching family safety since the 1990s. When school shootings became more common, I spoke with bodyguards, law enforcement, paramedics, special-forces soldiers, policy experts, and even a spy about how to keep our children safe from this tragic, infuriating crime.
Here are the most important things they taught me.
One size does not fit all
Our children's safety is our responsibility, and we have the final authority to protect them. Last year's shootings in Uvalde, Texas, proved that we could not rely on the police, the schools, or lawmakers to save our children.
It's on us, the parents. And, sadly, it's on our kids. We can and must take action to protect them as the authorities fail.
Our duty starts with finding out the shooting-response plan at our children's schools. Part of asking that question should include whether the district has a general plan for all sites or custom plans for each building. If the former, that's a red flag. Good safety policy starts with understanding the unique needs and vulnerabilities of each building. If our district doesn't do that, our level of responsibility increases.
We are not helpless
Part of the horror of a school shooting is the sense of helplessness. If it happened in our children's school, we would not be there in the moments they needed us most. We can't save them, at least not in person.
But we can do research. We can assess school policies and grounds, teach our children age-appropriate concepts, and practice lifesaving skills with them. We can hold our leaders at the school, district, state, and federal levels accountable. The bad news is that this is, again, on us. The good news is there's plenty for us to do.
While high-school wrestlers are more able than kindergarteners to protect themselves during a school shooting, even young kids have the power to increase their odds of survival. Our job is to help show them what power they have and encourage them to use it when needed.
Forget run, hide, fight
To show our children their power, we first need to know the most powerful things to do during a shooting. You've heard the advice of run, hide, fight. It's catchy and memorable but not what the experts I trust most recommend. Instead, they recommend an alternative: Escape, deny, attack.
Escape is better than run because just running doesn't provide a destination and escaping might mean walking, crawling, climbing, watching, listening, or waiting for a safe opportunity.
Deny is better than hide because hiding is passive. It implies cowering somewhere and hoping for the best. To deny the shooter access to you includes hiding, but it also includes locking doors, barricading paths, and continuing active resistance.
Attack is better than fight because a fight suggests something fair, even sportlike. Attacking from ambush, in numbers, with every dirty trick imaginable, is what it takes to survive if escape and deny don't work.
Talk early and often
In the years I've coached parents about this, the most common pushback I get is them not wanting to talk with young kids. People worry that bringing the topic up will scare them before they're old enough to do anything about those fears.
That thinking would be sound if school drills, the media, and their friends hadn't already brought school shootings to their attention. By the time children are old enough to understand the concept, they're already worrying about it. It's much better for us to show them that we take their fears seriously and have come up with some solutions.
Jason Brick spent 12 years in martial arts and security consulting, then 14 years in journalism. A father of two, sixth-degree black belt, and world traveler, he combines those two careers by interviewing world-class experts on every aspect of family safety, then coaching parents worldwide about what he has learned.
Read the original article on Insider