All the fear mongering about school safety has sent my mind meandering to my childhood.
We didn't have a TV nor a car. We read and walked where we wanted to go. I read comics like Archie and Little Lulu. I used my allowance to buy a Bobbsey Twins book every couple of weeks, and few years later the Nancy Drew books. We played board games and cards. We did puzzles and crafts. We walked 12 blocks to the swimming pool and about the same distance in the opposite direction to the park or tennis court. We didnt need to join health and fitness clubs, as we played outside, even in the snow.
I had living dolls---dogs and cats who allowed me to dress them in doll clothes and push them around the block in a doll buggy. I had a horse named Buck and to go with that, I had a cap gun six shooter, cowboy boots, a fringed skirt and vest, and a cowboy hat. I loved Roy Rogers and Gene Autry (who purchased his last Champion in Mandan from the uncle of one of my friends. I walked to school and back home, regardless of the weather. It never occurred to me someone might kidnap me. I knew the names of all the dogs between my home and school. If the homeowners were in the yard, they greeted us kids. I still remember the names of the neighbors and all of my teachers. Our second grade teacher often sat at her desk and wept---we kids wondered if her boyfriend was hurt in WWII, and we tried to be extra good on her sad days. No parent complained and we kids learned compassion.
What a wonderful time to grow up! The pasture across the street had a dozen or more horses that belonged to various people. I was allowed to take my little mutt, Bootsie, and freely roam in the hills. I was warned to listen and watch for rattle snakes, not people. Sometimes I took my lunch and stayed most of the day.
My favorite spot was a huge granite rock which provided a panoramic view of the Missouri Velley. When I sat up there, curious horses came to check out Bootsie and me. From that place I could see the block houses where Custer and his men guarded the Missouri. I could see The River, and imagine Lewis and Clark and their men pulling keel boats up the Missouri. I could feel the sun and the eternal wind, and Imagine! No need for video games or I-pods, as meadowlarks and wind in the grass made beautiful music---and I was free and safe. (And I did not have to dress up!)
I cannot imagine Miss Harrington, Miss Hamilton, Miss Neuman, Miss Remington, Miss Crawford, or Mrs. McCone wielding a gun! These were educated ladies, who liked kids and encouraged us to learn. They contributed to my becoming a teacher. The worst threats were the mean boys from St. Joseph who came to our playground when they had "Holy Days," and intimdated us. The other threats were chicken pox. measles, and mumps, or falling off the slide or the Merry-Go-Round. In an attempt to make everything safe, some play gound equipment has been removed and anti-bullying rules have been enacted. I am wondering how kids learn to use common sense and avoid danger while playing, or how to negotiate with peers, help each other, and solve their own problems. Now, a few think armed teachers or guards will keep kids safe in schools.
LIfe is risky. But lunatics with guns shooting little kids? Unimaginable! Sadly, the dangerous stranger hastoo often been replaced by armed classmates. And it isn't only guns---what about trusted people who are quiet precators: Jerry Sandusky, club leaders, teachers, priests, relatives? Guns don't protect kids from those "bad people."
As a teacher, IF I were told I had to take classes in weaponry, I would quit and find another occupation. If those teachers of my childhood had quit rather than be armed, if they not been teachers, many of my classmates would not have made the contributions to society they have in education, in law, in medicine, in agriculture, in the military, in businesses, and as citizens and family members. These ladies were examples of lives well lived---unselfish, kindly, wise. They lived Humilty and Goodness.
The days of mental illness, rage, and predators now hover over us. I am so sorry electronic devices, violence as entertainment, broken homes and people, garrulous politiciams, greedy and corroupt businesses, abuse of the environment and animals, abuse of family members, sex and drugs, will be the memories of today's children.
But arming school personell won't solve the problems. Maybe we need to go with a dog to a place with a view and think! May we all create Peaceful memories for children.