With the terrorism chatter in Australia again at an all time high following the Sydney Siege, I took the time today to talk to my kids who are the age of many of your grandkids about the subject and was astounded by just how much they understand and are being taught in their primary school environments today. But there was one thing that truly astounded all of us adults, and that was the drills children have been doing and the actions they have been taught in case of grave danger that all of them could relay. I guess we can say that their schools are teaching them “terrorism drills”.
As we all know, terrorism has not really been a problem in Australia until recently, but with great speed our country is being forced to grapple with it, the biggest impact we are likely to face it is in the lives of our children who as innocent bystanders need to be protected at all cost. And whilst most of us are inclined to want to protect our kids and grandkids from discussions about terrorism, it seems our schools are taking the opposite approach, preparing them for what is to come. One family discussion today had most of us adults agape as we listened to our young children tell us how their schools want them to react.
I have to admit that we haven’t discussed terrorism a whole lot in our house. There is no doubt that our children hear about it on the news, and that we discuss the fact that unkind people are doing horrible things to people who don’t deserve it when it is raised by them, but I don’t think we’ve sat down to discuss the risks and dangers in detail as we did today. And, being together with my American family, we were also able to hear how American schools are preparing their children first hand.
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Our Miss 9, a primary school student in year three, started to tell us how her school had taught them to react in the case that a stranger was to enter their school grounds. “The school has two bells; one for normal use, and the other is for when there is danger in the school grounds. The school will play the tune “Waltzing Matilda” through the loudspeaker and all the students will move into emergency mode,” she said. And she knew exactly what it was that she, at her young age, must do if she was to hear this tune through the speakers, describing it in detail to all of us while we sat stunned at the level of detail she went into.
In contrast, the process for my 6 year old niece in California school is not dissimilar. They have “danger drills” for if someone unknown or dangerous enters the school grounds. The teacher tells them that she wants them to follow the danger instructions and do exactly what she says. They have been told they will in these drills have to hide in the classroom and be very very quiet and she hands out colouring in to distract them from any concerns. “We have practiced being really really quiet and hiding,” she said.
It both surprised and kind of delighted me to hear just how well-planned my childrens’ schools are, but also saddened me to think that the schools have had to become well-prepared and I hope they never ever have need to use this training. Have you every discussed terrorism associated dangers with your Grandkids or were you aware that schools were establishing such plans for the children? How do you feel about it?