It's no secret gun violence is a serious and ongoing problem here in the United States. Although coverage of the issue comes and goes in the news, the threat is there every single day. As a result, most schools across the nation hold lockdown drills and specialized training for teachers to prepare for the possibility of an active shooter. Even the youngest among these students take part. And this viral picture of a kindergarten class' lockdown poster will stop you in your tracks.
On Wednesday, a Twitter user by the name of Georgy Cohen shared a sign that is literally hanging in his child's elementary building, Mashable reported. "This should not be hanging in my soon-to-be-kindergartener’s classroom," Cohen caption his post, which has been liked more than 32,000 times in just one day. If you're having a difficult time reading the words — which are apparently set to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" — here's what the poster says: "Lockdown, lockdown, lock the door. Shut the lights off. Say no more. Go behind the desk and hide. Wait until it's safe inside. Lockdown, lockdown, it's all done. Now it's time to have some fun."
Oh, god. Is this what it's really come to?
The bulk of commenters seem genuinely horrified that children are learning about lockdown drills to the same tune they learn their alphabet. "Jesus, that’s to the tune of the alphabet song, and Twinkle Twinkle... what a horrifying contribution to the songbook," one Twitter user wrote.
“'And now it’s time to have some fun.' This literally makes me sick to stomach," another person tweeted.
"This sickens me. We're traumatizing our kids because we can't get our politicians to stand up to the gun lobby," another Twitter user pointed out.
"I'm so sorry for all of you," another person tweeted. "Kids in Austria only know fire drills. Which amount to a leisurely stroll to the school yard ... That's how it should be."
Still — as one Twitter user pointed out — the sing-song strategy might actually be affective for young children. "It’s sad and it sucks that this has to be a thing in schools, absolutely," they wrote. "But the rhyme itself, set to a familiar tune, with it ending on a 'reward' term actually seems like it would be effective in helping younger kids remember protocol and in reinforcing it (1st drill then fun)."
And of course, there's always those people who miss the point entirely.
Look, I graduated from high school a little over 10 years ago, and we never did lockdown drills. (Guys, this wasn't that long ago.) But already, so much has changed. These days, nine in 10 schools in the U.S. participate in active shooter drills, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Vox reported. It was during the 2003-04 school year when this data started being collected — and back then, 46.5 percent of public schools had conducted active shooter drills with students, according to Vox.
By the time the 2014-14 school (the year after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary) year rolled around, however, that statistics was up to 70.3 percent. And data from 2015-16 showed that "lockdown drills" — which is a broader category NCES used for this particular year — were happening in 94.6 of schools.
As CNN reported on May 25, there have already been at least 23 school shootings in the U.S. in 2018. At this point, logic is telling me that lockdown drills and active shooting training aren't actually preventing mass shootings from happening at schools.
I acknowledge there isn't a quick fix to the gun violence problem that's so deeply entrenched in American culture. However, there are things we can do to help the situation and aside from the last-ditch efforts of training our children to defend themselves against an active shooter. Passing red flag laws, for example, could help combat gun violence, the LA Times reported. But simply accepting the fact that mass school shootings are now the norm — and having kids learn lockdown drill songs in kindergarten? Our children deserve so much better.