Response to school shootings tempered in Fairfield

By From page A1 | December 22, 2012

FAIRFIELD — The Twittersphere was abuzz Friday after a National Rifle Association press conference and the statement by the group’s executive vice president saying that each school should have armed security.

It’s an idea that had cropped up locally, albeit in humor.

Longtime preschool teacher Cheryl Stumbaugh asked her students’ parents Monday to come up with a list of things to make the school safer. Armed guards was on the list. A stun gun was another suggestion.

Neither are options that need to be considered, she said. Education and resources are the answer.

Stumbaugh suggested parents start by turning off the TV, so youngsters don’t hear so much bad news. Answering their questions in the simplest terms possible, while reassuring the child you will keep them as safe as you can, is also helpful.

After the tragedy, Stumbaugh said some parents were concerned about dropping off their children. While the loss of 20 innocent lives is heartbreaking, many children attend school each day and arrive home safely, she said.

Mental illness also needs to be addressed, though it’s a tough topic for many people, Stumbaugh said.

In a letter to the editor, Mark Bontrager, executive director of the Fairfield-based Aldea Children & Family Services, wrote that we cannot lose our public spaces to fear. His agency works with young people with serious social, mental and behavioral difficulties.

“We must find a way to manage the appropriate fears and anxieties and encourage our children to go out into the world with exuberance,” he penned. “We must seek more engagement with each other, take back our public spaces and say ‘no’ to fear and violence.”

Bontrager said adults must serve as models and realize the only control we can have over such an event is our reaction to the situation.

“Even in the face of tragedy, perhaps most importantly in the face of tragedy, we can still be the authors of our lives and help our children to become healthy, engaged and confident young men and women in creating a brighter future for us all,” he wrote.

Students appear to feel safe at local schools. Amy Gillespie-Oss of the Fairfield-Suisun School District reported there has been no increase of students requesting home study since the Dec. 14 tragedy.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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