This editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:
Late Friday afternoon, in the early darkness, a woman slowed her vehicle to a stop on the Old Glenn Highway in Eagle River. A young boy was at the curb, trying to cross without a light or crosswalk. Traffic slowed behind her; a pickup truck about to make a right turn on the other side of the street waited as well.
The boy, in a black jacket and wearing a backpack, dashed from curb to curb across five lanes.
Maybe everyone would have stopped anyway, but you had to wonder if everyone behind the wheel was particularly aware of the boy after a day’s news about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Twenty kids — first-graders, God help us — and six others killed at the school.
An elementary school is where parents figure their kids will be safe. Most kids don’t even have to think about it. So many people, from the librarian to the teachers to the crossing guard help keep them safe as a matter of course. You drop the kids off or see them to the bus and you don’t worry, at least not too much.
You get a call from the school and you think it might be the nurse — your child is sick, or took a spill on the playground. Or maybe you get a call like the one that went out Friday from the school district about free flu shots for students at the district building.
You don’t expect to get the call like the one Superintendent Jim Browder sent out on Saturday, reassuring parents that our schools are safe, advising them to check out the district web site for tips about talking to their kids about the Newtown killings, and urging them to talk to their principals with any concerns about school security.
Few of us can even imagine the calls Sandy Hook parents of victims received on Friday.
Fewer places are inviolate these days.
What to do? We’ll have the debate about guns and how to keep them out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have silverware let alone firearms. We should.
But first comes this advice for parents and all adults from the National Association of School Psychologists: “Model calm and control.”
There’s wisdom and common sense in that. We remember that so many good people are looking for our kids. We hug a little longer, take extra time with our own, extra care for them all.
“There are no words,” one of the people at Sandy Hook school said Friday. But there are deeds, like guaranteeing safe passage for a jaywalking boy, and sending whatever love we can across the country to Connecticut. A lot of people there have a dark passage beyond our reckoning. Let the rest of us offer light.