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Local Child Protection Expert Addresses Creekside High School Scare

Guest Writer: CarrieAnn Hitzel Gaines

Today we heard the news about Creekside High School and the three young boys who were planning to possibly physically hurt some of their fellow students. This was too close to home and another wake up call for all of us.

School shootings have been at the forefront of conversation with students since 1999 after the Columbine shooting.

To receive a text or call that your child’s school has been put on lockdown due to a threat from an active shooter is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Many parents have the mindset of “it won’t happen at our school” until it does like it did this week in my hometown of St. Johns, Florida.

The only thing we can do is to help — along with the schools — to teach children how to protect themselves in such an event.

Parents need to have open conversations with their children about these drills as well as how to protect themselves during such an event.

Parents also need to address their own feelings about this topic before they discuss it with children. We need to be a stable resource for our children when we have this conversation. Parents need to be informed about safety protocols, programs and body armor options for firearm protection. Be sure to talk with children about what to expect and how to react while being age appropriate.

Everyone needs to stay calm and listen to school authorities and law enforcement.

We recommend following the Run, Hide, Fight guidelines:

RUN – If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.

HIDE – If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.

FIGHT — As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.

Children need to know exactly what to do in response to an active shooter and take practice drills seriously.

For parents that have opted to give their children body armor in their backpacks, be sure they and their teachers have practiced drills with their backpacks. Make sure you are educated on what type of body armor you are buying and the type of protection it provides.

Make sure your children follow instructions from school staff and law enforcement.

Make children feel comfortable with “see something, say something”. If they feel uncomfortable about someone or something they see, encourage them to share with a staff member.

Parents need to ask children to share what they are feeling or thinking and this can help to ease anxiety or uncomfortable feelings about being prepared for an active shooter situation.

This is a tough issue to discuss with your children and yet, this is the reality of the world we live in and if you don’t have these conversations, how will they know what to do.

I will end with this – we can do all we can to protect our children and the most important one of all – pray for them daily—for their safety, for them to be kind, and to be a good friend.

Author: CarrieAnn Hitzel Gaines

Carrie Ann taught personal training to the military as a contractor for the Department of Defense. She never imagined she would become a child’s safety advocate and it’s not really something you aspire to be. It’s a calling and she was called. She feels her job is to teach children to say No to Drugs, watch out for Stranger Danger AND to be prepared should a shooter show up on their school grounds. These are the times we live in and of course it’s sad. But sad aside, we must do all we can to protect our children. That’s why she created A Safe Pack backpack inserts – body armor for children and has become a speaker/expert on the subject of our children’s safety.


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