Our hearts go out to all the families and staff at Robb Elementary School and the Uvalde, Texas community for their unimaginable loss. Innocent lives taken by a heinous crime.
School should be a haven for children where they feel safe and find the joy of learning, not violence and grief. Teachers should not be asked to confront a shooter and sacrifice their lives. So many of our communities have also experienced this pain, with more than 15 of our KIPP students having been killed by gun violence since 2020. Our children are growing up with the trauma of experiencing gun violence in and outside of school. As educators, we are angry, fed up, and overwhelmed by sadness.
Even as I write this, I have a hard time finding the words to explain to our students who are in the midst of their own end-of-year celebrations that so many children’s lives were lost in their last week of school. Children who, like so many of our KIPP elementary students, woke up yesterday and ran to school to see their favorite teacher or friends, only to have their lives taken away. Similarly, teachers went to work to celebrate their students’ accomplishments, begin packing up classrooms, and prepare for restful summer breaks. By the end of the day, two loving teachers were gunned down trying to protect their students.
The sad reality is that firearms became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers in 2020. So many communities from Buffalo, NY to Parkland, FL, Sandy Hook, CT have had horrible events and too many of our regions have felt the pain of lives taken by gun violence.
The poet Amanda Gorman, said it best “It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity—it’s inhumanity.”
It’s time to take action. In addition to thoughts and prayers, we need policy and change.
Below you will find some resources to talk to students about mass shootings and options to get involved in curbing gun violence.
Teaching in the Wake of Violence from Facing History & Ourselves
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After the Recent Shooting
Consider Taking Action:
Everytown for Gun Safety -Join the millions of Americans demanding our lawmakers take action so our children don’t have to stand up to gunmen. Text ACT to 644-33.
Moms Demand Action
Students Demand Action
We will all need time to process our emotions. Together, we can continue to strengthen our community and make it the safest possible place for our students.
It is at times like these that I find solace and grounding in a poem by multi-media artist Morgan Harper Nichols in her book “Peace is a Practice.”
With gratitude, love, and light,
Kinnari Patel-Smyth – Acting CEO & President, KIPP Foundation