What Can We Tell the Kids?

There’s no good way to tell children about another school shooting or much reason to believe our policymakers will help prevent the next one

Sarah Stankorb
6 min readMay 26, 2022


Photo: Colin Lloyd / Unsplash

This year will mark the decade anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting.

I remember because my daughter turned ten this year, and she was a baby in her stroller with me when I rolled up to a protest in Washington, D.C. in the days after the unbearable tragedy. I learned there was some sort of press conference happening in a building nearby featuring NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. What could he possibly say? I pushed my daughter’s stroller into a packed room where LaPierre bemoaned violence in video games and advanced arguments for armed guards in schools and teachers as an armed line of defense. Protesters in the room erupted with “stop killing our children” and “the NRA has blood on its hands.”

Americans are still screaming those words.

Yesterday morning, like most American parents, I had to explain to my daughter that an 18-year-old had killed 19 children and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school.

“Why wasn’t he in school? Did he drop out?” she wanted to know about the gunman, himself barely an adult. She didn’t ask how he had access to a semi-automatic weapon. She didn’t ask how a thing like this could happen in a school to children her age.

She’s been training against just such an event her entire school career.

I remember the first time she came home and told me how if things got really dangerous with a bad guy during a lockdown, she’d toss her scissors at him. In such an event, they had special permission.

Her little plastic safety scissors, rounded plastic at the tips.

We’re residing in a brief moment of horror as the details of another mass slaying hits the news. The Uvalde shooter had legally purchased two AR-15-style semi-automatic guns just days before he shot his grandmother and warned online that he planned to shoot up a school. Then he did so. This comes a week after another 18-year-old killed 10 people in a racist mass shooting in a Buffalo grocery store.



Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb has published with The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic (among others). @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com