This Toddler Practicing A Lockdown Drill Shows Us Just How Far We’ve Gone

by Robyn Smith


If you haven’t seen it or heard about it by now, let me enlighten you: Last Wednesday, a mother shared a picture of her three-year-old daughter practicing how to hide from attackers in the bathroom. At first, when her mother saw her standing on the toilet, she thought it was funny—she was going to send a picture to her husband for some casual parenting LOLs. But then her daughter told her why she was standing on the toilet, and it sparked outraged sobs:

“At that moment all innocense of what I thought my three-year-old possessed was gone,” says Stacey Wehrman Feeley, a resident of Traverse City, Michigan. “Politicians – take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren, your great grand children and future generations to come. They will live their lives and grow up in this world based on your decisions. They are barely 3 and they will hide in bathroom stalls standing on top of toilet seats. I do not know what will be harder for them? Trying to remain quiet for an extended amount of time or trying to keep their balance without letting a foot slip below the stall door?”

Recently, the Senate voted against all bills toward gun control in light of the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting. BUST has written before about how much money these politicians get from the NRA, and I personally think that the thousands of dollars going straight into their pockets have direct impact on our nation’s security.

There’s an age-old debate over freedom vs. security—the more we have of one, the less we have of another. But that lockdown drill, that safety that we must teach our toddlers, is not freedom. It’s not freedom to have anyone, no matter what risk they might hold, purchase machines that are designed to wound or kill living beings. No one is arrested for a crime they haven’t committed yet, but why should we let them commit that crime in the first place if we have reasonable cause to say they would? Not to be arrested for something they haven’t done, but to prevent the crime from occuring in the first place by prohibiting their legal, safe access to these weapons of mass murder?

What stood out to me in Feeley’s post is that she mentions the $500 million that President Obama set aside in the budget to go toward mental health services:

“Let’s talk mental health. Where is the $500 million that the Obama administration put into the budget for approval…did it go through? Is it being implemented or just sitting there? Where is the access to care for those struggling with mental illness? Politicians, I ask you…how can I help?”

It worries me that so many of these laws that come into question discriminate against those with mental illnesses—just because you have bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you’re going to murder people—however, there’s a reason why the mental health treatment many people need to live normal lives is only accessible in jail.

In the day and age we live in, it can be tough to think about long term solutions when we wake up every day not knowing who’s next or whether someone will attack or not. This little girl shouldn’t practice her lockdown drill at home—she should be learning the alphabet and how glue works and how to count to ten. She should come home practicing how to count with her fingers and how to write her name. But instead, she’s internalizing these survivor skills that she learned at a place that should always be a safe space—this is a short term solution. Teaching toddlers how to protect themselves from mass murderers is similar to teaching women how not to get raped. Its main purpose is to make potential victims feel safer, regardless of its actual impact on the outcome of these occurances.

In Orlando, one survivor who stood with many people on toilets in the restroom was found and shot at, but a stranger who acted as a shield saved her. Could you imagine this three-year-old doing the same thing? Is that the only way she could survive in this day and age?

In order to protect our children, our people, our families, we need to think about long term solutions. We need to prevent these crimes before they happen, through better regulations on guns, better, more accessible mental health care, and prioritizing (at least temporarily) security over freedom.

Top photo via Stacey Wehrman Feeley

More From BUST

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An Open Letter To My Conservative Father, From Your Liberal Daughter

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