The mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning horrified the nation and left parents questioning how they can protect their children.
Twenty-seven people were killed—the majority of them children between the ages of 5 and 10—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The violence is the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
Schools are perceived as a safe place for kids, though few have security measures in place to defend against violence like what happened at Sandy Hook School.
The school's doors are locked at 9:30 a.m., and visitors are required to sign in, according to the Sandy Hook School website. When violence erupted Friday morning, the school went on "lockdown," according to media reports. That means teachers and staff locked students inside classrooms rather than risk evacuation.
Stories of heroic teachers and school staffers at the school have emerged. One teacher locked all of her students in a closet to protect them, the Huffington Post reported.
Parents were notified by a reverse 911 call that went out to all Newtown public school families, NBC reported.
The Sumner School District has a protocol in place for emergency situations, and both Bonney Lake and Sumner Police Departments stopped by all the district schools today, Patch found.
"Today's shooting was definitely at the forefront of our minds, and our first stop was to the local schools this morning," said Sumner Police Chief Brad Moeriecke.
Bonney Lake police officer and spokesman Todd Green echoed that statement.
"We went to each school and made personal contact with the staff, just to let them know we were here," said Green.
Sumner School District Superintendent Craig Spencer released the following statement today for all district families:
Like you, I am shocked and saddened by today’s tragedy in Connecticut. I extend my sympathy to the community of Newtown and especially to the staff, students and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s difficult to comprehend the motivation for the horrific incident.
We have worked hard over the past few years to develop school and district emergency preparedness plans. We have practiced and trained to respond with confidence. Our plans have been developed in coordination with our local police and fire departments, the county’s First Responder system and the state department of Emergency Management. Nevertheless, the random nature of a sudden mass shooting can make us feel very vulnerable, particularly when innocent, vulnerable children are targeted. As we try to cope with this reality, we can and must help our children cope.
In the aftermath of the tragic event that has unfolded, we want to share with you that we are working hard to maintain the routines at school. Our staff have been wonderful! They have listened, reassured, and nurtured students and parents when needed. We are also sharing with you some strategies you could use to help your children understand the day’s events and cope with their feelings.
- Reassure your children that they are safe.
- Turn off the television and Internet. Endless news programs are likely to heighten anxiety, and young children cannot distinguish between images on television and their personal reality.
- Maintain a normal routine. Children need a sense of stability.
- Stick to facts. Answer questions factually.
- Remain calm and reassuring. Children take their cues from their parents and adults.
- Be a good listener and observer. Pay attention to changes in behavior.
- Take care of yourself. You are better able to help your child if you are coping well.
- If you are anxious or upset, your child is more likely to be so as well.
- Tell your children you love them, and offer plenty of hugs and kisses.
The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. It takes parents, students, staff and community working together to keep our schools safe places to learn. If you ever have information about suspicious, illegal or unsafe activity at school, please call our Safe Schools Tip-Line at 1-866-LIVE TIP ext. 161. You can report such activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may do so anonymously if you wish.
If you have concerns about your child and would like the counselor to speak with him or her, please contact your child’s school office.
As caring adults, we can make the difference between being overwhelmed by circumstances we cannot control and developing critical lifelong emotional and coping skills.
Join the local discussion on today's tragedy with Patch:
Connecticut School Shooting: Is Your Child Safe in the Classroom Anymore?
Is Today Not the Day to Discuss Gun Control?
Patch was on the ground today at Sandy Hook. Read more on Newtown Patch:
- Patch Exclusive: 'It Wasn't Me' Man Named as Shooter Writes
- Report: Gunman's Mother Was Target and School's Kindergarten Teacher
- Reaction: Sandy Hook School Shooting
- Police Raid Sandy Hook Home Hours After Shooting