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So, this week, my profession has been under scrutiny again—not in the UK, but in America, where their illustrious leader decided that it would be a great idea to get the teachers in their schools to carry guns.
I know, a controversial thing to talk about, but a necessary one. I am a foster mum of three, and have been a teacher for 14 years this June, and I would stand in front of a bullet for my kids and my students, but I would not carry a gun even if you paid me to.
I can hear the responses now: "If your students mean so much to you, why wouldn’t you protect them?" I am. I am protecting them from being forced to do something they wholeheartedly disagree with. I am protecting their right to freedom by not endangering them to be encouraged to make bad choices. I am showing them that they can stand up for themselves without resorting to violence and hiding behind weapons.
I am so pleased I’m not a teacher in America right now with this debate going on around me and hope to goodness it never becomes a suggestion for the UK—at that point, I’m off! I don’t want my kids or students to grow up in a world where it ever becomes acceptable to carry a weapon.
One of the most powerful moments in movies is in the film Freedom Writers, where one of the boys ends up accidentally shooting his best friend because he didn’t know the gun was loaded. All he could do was sit there and wait for the police. At no point has it been taken into consideration how these teachers would feel if they ever had to use a gun against another human being or, heaven forbid, one of their students.
Because that’s the reality. Just like most forms of abuse or attack, it’s likely that the person you end up pointing the gun at is going to have a connection with you or your institution in some way. That changes everything in my book—I immediately see my kids or students stood in that position. I don’t want to point a gun at them, I want to ask them what’s wrong and offer them the support and strength they need to put their weapon down and face up to the consequences they have brought upon themselves.
I’m not naive enough to think that just by talking, I could fix everything, but there are other ways of dealing with a situation that don’t make me just as bad as the other person wielding a gun. We need to be supporting America in putting better security measures in place in schools without making it feel like school is a prison. We need to share our counseling skills and preventative education measures to better equip staff to deal with these kind of issues. We need to acknowledge the wealth of experience in American schools and how many lives those teachers change everyday. Most of all, we need to show solidarity with our American colleagues who are saying to Mr. Trump, "Enough is—ban guns."