Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Do you feel safe?

Several years ago, I moved back to the area where I grew up. More by necessity, than by choice, this is where I am raising my kids -- but this is not the same community I knew.

When my kids first came home and told me about 'lockdown drills', I thought they were joking. The parents were not given any warning or information about it -- the school board just implemented them -- not that I would object, of course. In the past week and a half, all three of the schools my kids go to have had genuine 'lockdowns'. There have been drills in the past, but this time they were for real.

The lockdown begins with an announcement. All doors are locked -- outside and inside. Nobody gets in, and nobody gets out. The kids all move to a part of the classroom away from the window, and whenever possible are to sit on the floor so they are below the windows and stray bullets can't hit them.

The first real lockdown occurred when there was a shooting just along the street from my younger kids' school. The suspect fled the scene and their school was locked down along with two others in the area. My son, who is nine, thought it was 'cool', but my twelve year old daughter didn't. She was disturbed when she realised that some of her classmates live in the building where the shooting took place, and that it was right across from the grocery store we go to regularly.

The next incident involved a knife at the convenience store behind my eldest daughter's high school. Her school and my thirteen year old son's school are within close proximity, and both were locked down until past dismissal time.

These incidents happen to have occurred during school hours, but they are not all that is going on around here. The TTC shooting this week -- that was just a mile or two away. I'm less than a mile from where the notorious 'Galloway Gang' (used to?) call home. Mostly, I don't think about those things. It might be close geographically, but in a way it feels like that's a different world -- but when they start holding lockdown drills in the local schools, and then those lockdown drills stop being drills . . . Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the school board has these procedures in place without someone having to die first -- what I'm lamenting is that such a procedure has to exist at all.

I wonder if Irwin Cotler's, Dalton McGuinty's, David Miller's, kids/grandkids practice lockdowns at their schools.