Advice from the Trenches: Guns in School

Dear C and Dr. B;

As a mother, I am deeply affected by the recent headlines — more mass shootings and calls from our president to have armed guards to protect every religious organization and school.

My daughter attends a religious school, and I fear sending her to school tomorrow. I hate the uncertainty and sense of danger, but the idea of armed guards is also disturbing on more than one level. First, what kind of an atmosphere will this create for our children? Military personnel and guns greeting the kids every morning? And how are the institutions supposed to pay for this? There’s not enough funding for education as it is and the additional cost is beyond the budget of most institutions. What will we have to sacrifice in order to have an armed presence?

I don’t want my children growing up in a world of fear and guns. I don’t want to leave them unprotected either, and the uncertainty is giving me a stomachache. I joined a group that is for gun control, but I know that the laws aren’t going to be changed any time soon. In the meantime, what can I do to make sure my daughter isn’t going to be traumatized or hurt, when I don’t know who to trust? What do I do to keep this stomachache from becoming an ulcer?

Fearful Fran


Dear  Fran,

I hear you. Your fear is my fear. It is a fear we all share, but there are ways to deal with it.

First, let’s address the immediate need to filter this reality we find ourselves in. To put it in perspective, the odds of your daughter being held at gunpoint in school are probably less than her chances being hit by a car on the way there. This fear is really yours, but your daughter will pick up on it. If you stay chill, so will your daughter; she isn’t in any real or tangible danger at this moment.

So, what do you need tell your children? It’s a good idea to first ask them what they already know. Encourage them to talk about it at their own level, and reassure them if they have anxieties.

The religious community teaches us to fight hate with love. Humans learn through role modeling – so be a beacon of light. Volunteer, help someone, join an organization that helps people. Role model this behavior for your daughter and have her be part of it. Teach her that the best way to change the world is by living in it the way you would wish it to be. Studies show this helps for all forms of PTSD.

A caveat is that common sense always applies. Help others, but don’t sacrifice yourself for others. People in codependent relationships can go overboard if they take a “this love no matter what” mantra to the opposite extreme. Balance in all things.

Dr. B


C says: one of the goals of terrorists and mass killers is to disrupt our sense of well being and inner peace. The fear that we feel is their victory … and I hate to let the bad guys win.

If you look at headlines through the past, there were always dire and sensational stories pouring out of the media. We have lived through world wars, nationwide poverty, earthquakes and, yes, mass killings. The times in which we live now are not much different, there are just more people, more guns and a LOT more media. If you are going to walk around in a state of anxiety until it’s all over, your anxiety will kill you long before the dangers do.

I think that the best way to both alleviate fear and lessen the chances of danger is for all of us to keep our eyes open, and ask more questions. The questions are as important as the watchfulness, because it’s easy to misinterpret events if we live in a state of apprehension and fear. True awareness is not tainted by expectation. Teach your daughter to see clearly, and without prejudice, and she will grow into an adult who is never going to be held hostage by fear. We can create peace in our own lives. Don’t let the bad guys win.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at






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