The dog days of summer are here, and with the days becoming ever so slightly shorter, the temperature slowly dropping as the month drags on, and the sunkissed tans start to fade, we are now faced with another hallmark of the end of summer: Back to school.
Now, if we were to believe the department stores and television, you’d swear that “back to school” started in June. As the kids return from their summer camps and finish up their last weeks of summer break, we need to start to prepare them (and ourselves) for back to school. This post, however, isn’t going to harp on the importance of getting back into a schedule, about getting enough sleep, or even where to buy the cheapest school supplies. Yes, those are all critical when it comes to preparing for school, but we are here to discuss something that often goes overlooked.
The truth is, the scope of what it means to be a child in school has changed drastically in the last twenty years. When most of us were anxious about getting notes passed around during class about us, children today have to fear being shamed, abused, or bullied online. Where most of us were taught to stay away from the man in the van offering us candy, children today have to be aware of potential predators watching their every move online and posing as other kids. And where most of us grew up with the greatest fear of violence in the classroom being a random fist fight in the yard (that was promptly disrupted by a teacher and handled by the principal), and children today have seen or experienced gun violence in their own schools. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary left even our youngest children exposed and fearful of horrific violence in one of the two places where they should feel safest.