Nearly every day of the week, parents entrust their children to the schools they attend. There is an implicit degree of security in the exchange but, far too often, that security comes into question. When Shelley Harrison Reed's daughter's school received a bomb threat, she shared the heartbreaking note her daughter wrote on her arm during the school lockdown. And while everything thankfully turned out OK in the end, the image of the note is a poignant reminder the new "normal" today's children face.
The Delaware mom first learned that something was up via Facebook, as TODAY reported. She received a number of notifications from the Facebook page for parents at New Castle County school where her kids attend saying that the school had been placed on lockdown following a bomb threat. After receiving a call about the threat, police quickly responded and determined that the grounds were secure. From there, the students went on with their regularly scheduled classes.
When Reed picked up her children — 10-year-old Sean and 7-year-old Vanessa — after their school bus dropped them off, she asked them about their day and the lockdown. Fortunately, both children seemed to be alright, Reed said, according to The Washington Post. They both told their own versions of the experience and how it was handled in their individual classrooms, and that was that.
It wasn't until they got home that Reed noticed the note written on her daughter's arm.
When Vanessa was changing out of her school uniform, Reed saw the words "Love Mom and Dad" written down her daughter's arm in purple marker, as The Hill reported.
Reed explained Vanessa's mindset at the time in her Facebook post. "I say to her, why did you write that on your arm? She says, in case the bad guy got to us and I got killed, you and daddy would know that I love you, and she started to cry (as did I as I watched a little piece of her innocence get stolen away)." Reed wrote. "To know that my [7-year-old] was put in a position to think that thought is absolutely gut wrenching and it’s killing me inside."
The experience prompted her to share because she was "thinking a lot of [her] mom friends who also went through this today are probably feeling the same way." Her post quickly went viral and has since been shared more than 100,000 times.
The experience lingered with Reed long after she saw Vanessa's arm. "It’s now been a couple hours, and I can’t seem to shake this awful feeling, feeling of sadness, fear, and plain disgusts for this new ‘normal’ our kids have to deal with on any given day.....it’s a very scary and disturbing society we now live in, and it’s heartbreaking," she wrote on Facebook.
In an interview with Romper, Reed said that she didn't have a specific "message" behind her post. "I was simply sharing the raw emotion I was feeling at the time and it certainly turned into something I never expected," she tells Romper. But since the post has taken off, Reed has found meaning in the experience.
"We need to protect our children in school," she tells Romper. "And if there is anything positive to come out of this situation, I hope that it is more discussion on how to do that. I don't know the solution, but I do know that more conversation is needed."
Indeed, many of the comments on Reed's post expressed the same desire to improve the safety and security of children at school, as well as stories of other children going through similar experiences. By sharing her story, Reed was a part of prompting the kind of conversation that is desperately needed.