On Feb. 22, as calls came into local police departments that our schools were under attack, one thing became apparent — We are very traumatized in society.
Thankfully, the reports to 911 that active shooters were inside schools across Colorado were untrue and proved to be false as officers responded. However, the trauma that goes with these calls was very apparent.
For me, as a mother and journalist, I immediately stressed out. I watched other journalists on Twitter make comments putting into words just how I was feeling. Many said as soon as the calls come in, we start worrying about what could be happening in our communities.
As more than a dozen schools were impacted throughout the day, Englewood made the list, and then Littleton High School. Littleton Police headed to the school and students were locked inside, leaving parents wondering if they were indeed OK.
The thing is, while other schools were cleared and quickly, Littleton felt like it took forever. This is not judge to Littleton schools or police, it just felt like forever for me and a reporter waiting for word.
I started scanning Twitter, where the trauma we are experiencing as a society became very apparent:
From students tweeting that they were still inside a classroom hunkered down without any knowledge of what is happening on the outside.
From parents saying they have elementary school children without a cell phone, and they were worried because they had no way of knowing what was happening inside.
Tweet after tweet, parents said they heard from their child but still had no clear answers of what was happening.
As the minutes continued, the Littleton Police Department would tweet that “still no injuries” had been found. While good news, it was still stressful because it wasn’t the “all clear” tweet parents and students were waiting for.
For students, this wasn’t just a drill to go through what to do if this actually happened. While found to be a hoax, for our communities, this was essentially the real thing until police ruled it wasn’t.
Earlier in the week, my own children went through a lockdown drill with their school. Afterward, my 6-year-old asked some pointed questions on why they did it. I was honest with him. In reality, we just do not live in a world right now where we can lie to our children about the evil that can be lingering outside of our schools, public arenas ands elsewhere.
A threat or call about a shooting is never discounted anymore. All calls, all threats are treated as if they are real.
For those responsible, there is no excuse for the level of cruelty you imposed on teachers, students, parents, law enforcement and our communities.
While thankfully, no one was hurt, in the end, this day shows us that something has to be done to get the increasing numbers of mass shootings under control. We are past the time of bickering about which political party is right and which is wrong.
We are a traumatized society that deserves debate, compromise and true action that leads to healing and safety.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.