Armed Guards Don’t Belong in School

After the senseless tragedy that occurred in Newton, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary the entire nation has been engulfed in a conversation about gun control, school safety and mental illness. In my own Islamic school community, parents have  debated and had heated conversations about our kids safety. The school our kids attend is in the basement of a Mosque. It was decided that an armed guard would be the best short term solution in beefing up our schools security.

But that very notion of having an armed guard at school makes me extremely anxious and I don’t think he will keep our kids any safer. To invite a stranger with a gun into such close proximity of our children seems counterintuitive on every level.

My feeling on having an armed guard align closely with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy who said:

“Let me say this: more guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom…”

In my head the math just doesn’t add up: Gun+Gun= safer school!

Having an armed guard at school introduces a whole new dimension of problems that we must be aware of. First  and foremost, the armed guard can be a potential threat to our kids and the staff. I understand that the guard would be trained and there would be a background check, but what guarantee do we have that he would not in fact use the weapon against us? We do not know what his intentions are and neither can we judge how he may feel on a given day. Why are we willing to take such a big risk?

The second problem that can potentially arise is the higher risk of accidents. If the armed guard  had a judgement lapse and mistakenly identifies someone as a threat he could potentially injure or kill an innocent person. That is also something that we can’t control and we are putting a lot of faith in a person who our community knows virtually nothing about.

The third problem is that we may become satisfied with the armed guard and not feel the need to consider other security options. The security issue is an ongoing dilemma that needs to be consistently improved by long term solutions such as adding video surveillance and bulletproof windows.

The hiring of an armed guard may make us feel more secure, but we are working under a lot of assumptions.The first assumption being that the armed guard is in fact a good and sane person who will not ever misuse his power. The second assumption is that he will never have an accident in regards to his weapon. The third assumption is that in the event of an emergency he will in fact put himself in harm’s way.

Our childrens security is paramount and an armed guard is great in theory “if” he performs as we would like to imagine him to be. But lets be honest he is a guy working a 9-5 job like the rest of us and we cannot put our childrens lives at risk because we are under the false pretense that the guard will put our kids first and will become a hero if an emergency type situation occurs.

The truth of the matter is that the Newton was an isolated event. Yes we should be proactive about our students safety, but we shouldn’t do that by bringing a gun into a gun free place. We should as a community seriously think about the potential problems and consequences that can occur by  bringing an armed guard to our schools.

A Preschooler’s Understanding of Hajj

Humza started in an Islamic preschool in our community almost a month ago. We had heard great things about it so we had registered him a year prior to him attending to ensure his spot (it fills up fast.)

During that year I was in Pakistan for an extended period and so I enrolled my eldest son in a nursery school in Karachi. My experience in the nursery was great. I was amazed at the professionalism of the teacher, the staff and the kinds of activities that the kids were exposed to. The facility although at a private residence was spotless, inviting and very kid friendly.

I came back from Pakistan and it was time for Humza to start school. I began to have doubts about my decision of enrolling Humza in ADAMS Radiant Heart Academy. The preschool was not as clean or inviting as the nursery in Karachi. My friends were astonished to hear that a Pakistani nursery was so amazing and I kept comparing the two institutions in my head.

Initially the great thing about ADAMS was that my son was extremely happy going to school everyday. He would wake up excited about going to school and would be very eager to pack his snack. Sometimes as punishment I would threaten him by saying, “If you don’t listen to me than I won’t take you to school tomorrow!” He would be in tears! But it wasn’t till a week ago that I saw the “magic” of an Islamic preschool,

Humza had been learning Surah Al-Fatiha for a few weeks but just last week he came home and just recited the whole surah with almost no mistakes. I was stunned. I had not done anything really to help him learn it except for reciting it with him a few times at night or on the way to school in the mornings. But it gets better, I had been thinking of Hajj and Eid-Al Adha but I didn’t even think to explain the significance  of both these events to my 3-year old.

I was too busy thinking about important things like:  What I’m going to wear on Eid? What should I cook for Eid? And Where is the party this Eid?!?

On Monday afternoon while quietly eating his vanilla yogurt Humza looked at me and said, “Momma, Hajj has mountains.”

Totally shocked in a good way, I nonchalantly answered “Oh really? What else is there in Hajj?

My three year old broke it down for me: “Hajj is where the Kabah is and there are mountains and their is Zam Zam which we can drink. We run between the mountains because their was a baby who had no food. The baby was kicking because he was hungry and his mommy was running back and forth to the mountains to find food.”

WHOA! I was blown away!!! How do the teachers explain these concepts while still keeping the kids engaged and happy? Hats off to them.

The ADAMS preschool is not the most well-equipped and certainly is not very glamorous but the school has a lot of heart. It has just been a month and  now I  realize why parents love Adams Radiant Heart academy, the teachers instill in their students the love for Allah (SWT) and all of Allah’s creations. It also makes life for parents easier by introducing the students to concepts that we may not have been able to explain. On the other hand it may be challenging  parents to open up their Islamic books so that they can keep up with their kids. I know I certainly need to!