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That Time My Daughter’s School Went on Lockdown

Feb 7, 2018

It’s a Thursday. I’m in bed with a cold. I’m on the phone with my mother.

A bing from my cell alerts me that an email has come through. A seemingly benign message pops up from my daughter’s elementary school informing me that there’s been an unconfirmed threat at the school. And they’ve begun a Hold and Secure procedure.

Nothing can prepare you for seeing your kid’s school become the site of an active criminal investigation.

The terms “unconfirmed threat” and “Hold and Secure” aren’t phrases that I tend to associate with my kid’s academic day. I read the email aloud to my mom as I try to process what these words mean. She says what I want to hear: “It’s probably nothing.”

But then a text from a friend pops up asking if I had heard the news. I tell her I don’t know what to make of it. She then directs me to the mother of all sources for parental news — the parents’ Facebook group.

Now I’m looking at images of police cars surrounding my daughter’s school. Police officers are standing where kids usually play, on guard at every entrance. Posts from concerned parents crowd the Facebook page as everyone tries to understand what’s happening? And then, of course, the rumours being to fly.


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Lockdown drills are just part of the everyday routine for schools. But there are no such drills for parents. Nothing can prepare you for seeing your kid’s school become the site of an active criminal investigation. It conjures the darkest thoughts a parent can conceive — someone out there wants to hurt my child.

But in this case it wasn’t just a thought; it was a reality.

Somebody had written a letter threatening to do harm to the teachers and students, and then sent it to the school. The police were alerted, parents were notified and the students were locked up in their classrooms.

Since that day, I make a conscious choice to kiss my child and tell her I love her before she goes to school.

Living in Canada can give you a certain sense of security. We watch in horror as war breaks out in different parts of the world, as terrorism is unleashed in other places and as mass shootings happen with nauseating regularity south of the border. But those things don’t often happen here, not in this country. Until, of course, they do...

I’ll never forget the moment I first heard about Sandy Hook, the shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. Those children, most of them just in the first grade, lost their lives when a deranged shooter entered and shot up their elementary school.

But deep down, I was terrified for my own kid who was also in grade one at the time. How, as a parent, can we protect our kids against the unthinkable?


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Since that day, I make a conscious choice to kiss my child and tell her I love her before she goes to school. I know I should do it anyway, but now I’m reminded that we can’t take anything for granted.

After two days of a Hold and Secure procedure and a week of police presence, things went pretty much back to normal. I’m going to assume that the person who sent the letter had a lapse in judgment that day. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want to think positively about our world. I just have to...

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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