This is heartbreaking.
Courtesy of Teen Vogue:
Over the past few weeks, Allison* has been busy getting ready for her 16th year of teaching high school English. Her back-to-school routine has become habit after so many autumns, but this year is noticeably different. Among the lesson plans, the school supplies, and the class rosters, Allison is also writing her will — in case she is killed in a school shooting.
“It’s something that I’ve been meaning to do for a number of years, since I first purchased my house seven years ago,” the 38-year-old told Teen Vogue. “I do seem to always think of it in the context of the school year.” Allison added that the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, were the final push she needed in order to create her will. “I kept it fairly simple and generic,” she said of the process. “I utilized a free online program that allows you to fill in specific details and then frames it within the necessary legal jargon. I only designated a few specific things.”
Allison is not alone. Christina*, a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher from California, created a will just a few months after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting for the same reason. “School shootings were always in the back of my mind as a possibility, but something in the conversation shifted after Parkland,” the educator explained. “My coworkers and I were talking about it more, and my school started doing school-shooting training. There were news stories about teachers dying in shootings and being ‘heroes.’ I’m not sure how I would react in a moment like that, but I hope I would protect my students. It felt like I should think about what should happen to my own family if something were to happen to me.”
That fear is not unfounded; 2018 was the worst year on record for school shootings in the United States, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, which began compiling data on this topic in 1970. Everytown for Gun Safety reports that there have been at least 57 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019 so far. And sadly, school is not the only place where people in the U.S. have a fear of being shot; there have been mass shootings at churches, at temples, movie theaters, nightclubs, festivals, concerts — to say that “nowhere is safe” would not be an exaggeration. Since the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, there have been over 2,000 mass shootings in the U.S., but few new laws to restrict access to guns.
While having a will is a good idea for asset-owning adults, it’s not just teachers who are preparing for the possibility of dying in a school shooting. Last year, Javon Davies a sixth grader from Birmingham, Alabama, went viral after he wrote out instructions for what should happen to his belongings (like his PlayStation and his cat), if he were killed at school — and more students are doing the same.
Tony, a high school senior, told Teen Vogue that a group of his friends created wills together this summer. Like Allison, they were moved by the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, though the Texas resident noted that his peers have discussed the topic before. “One of my friends started talking about how she was worried about a school shooting happening at our school, and another said he thought about writing a will once, just in case,” Tony recalled. “Then after those two shootings happened in the same day, we were texting about it again and decided to get together and write them. I’m not sure what my friends did with theirs, but I put mine in my desk drawer at home.”
This is easily one of the saddest things I have ever posted.
To be afraid that you might die while educating children or receiving that education is unbelievable.
And yet here we are.