Unthinkable. That's the only thing you can say about the tragedy that struck an elementary school last week in Connecticut.
And yet it's a scene that's played out far too often in the past several years, starting with Colombine and continuing until today.
Setting aside arguments about gun control for another day, it's better to focus on how parents can reassure their children they are safe and secure.
And for the most part, they are. If you just look at the intense focus on ending bullying from our schools (a number of school shooters said they had felt bullied), that's a tremendous gain from a few years ago when a child was routinely told that the best way to stop a bully was by taking boxing lessons.
Demoney Elementary principal Justin Bouse told the Estherville Lincoln Central Board of Education Monday night that a lot of children hadn't heard about the Connecticut shootings because their parents had kept them away from hearing the news.
And that's an excellent idea, according to a child psychologist who was on NPR not long after the shootings.
She said young children may have difficulty distinguishing a single incident from multiple incidents (imagine War of the Worlds broadcast endlessly for an entire weekend). The child can then be traumatized several times to the point of sustaining a form of PTSD.
Parents who keep the television and radio turned off may be doing a lot more good than they realize. They're saving themselves from having to console their children from a tragedy well over a thousand miles away, which in a child's mind, could be just next door.
Better to show your children the love and affection the need and deserve. They'll find out how harsh the world is soon enough.
In fact, this might be a good opportunity to pull out those board games that have been gathering dust on the shelf. You know - the ones you played with Grandma and Grandpa?
This just might be a good time to renew some old traditions.