30 May 2022
The faces of the victims in the Texas school shooting leave me transfixed. I see my own daughter in their eyes. The hope, joy and innocence in the pictures of each victim is what I see when I look at my own 11-year-old daughter.
I suppose it is only natural for me to view the tragedy through the eyes of a mother.
I am sad, angry, outraged and I am scared. I mourn for the parents of the victims and I fear for the safety of my own children. It is our number one job to keep them safe and protected.
The night of the shooting, our family talked about what happened over dinner. We created a space to share our thoughts and feelings. I wanted to say something to ease their worry (maybe my worry too). I talked about school security, assuring my kids that our schools are more secure and have strict protocols that make it difficult for even parents to get into the buildings. That’s when my son said, “But you can easily get in if you are a student”. His statement stopped me in my tracks. He was right. My other child said, “At least it wasn’t us.”
Suddenly, I was seeing the shooting through a much different lens, through the eyes of a child. How silly of me not realize that my children fully recognize the risk of going to school in modern times.
I grew up in the 80’s when we would hide under our desks for nuclear strike drills. The big difference, the threat never materialized. It was only a drill. Times have changed. The threat is very real, and deadly.
What my children said made me think about what it would be like to be in their shoes. What if mass shootings happened in newsrooms during my days as a journalist. How afraid would I be to go to work? Would I even continue going to work? It gave me anxiety just thinking about it. What would you do if your workplace was considered a target?
All of this made me realize that the stress on our children is immense. I cannot imagine the weight on their small shoulders as they return to the classroom after another mass shooting.
What a terrible burden for a child to carry.
So as look at the faces of the victims – I feel even greater sadness, as I am reminded of what has been lost in Texas, and across our nation.
Sloane Heffernan is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist and former WRAL-TV anchor/reporter. In June 2021, Sloane transitioned from journalism to launch Storymore, a brand storytelling business. Sloane now uses her storytelling skills to help businesses clarify their message and create a deeper connection with their desired audience.