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The Beijing News, China

Teachers in American School
Shooting Inspire Respect

By 熊丙奇

Translated By Mollie Gossage

17 December 2012

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken

China - The Beijing News - Original Article (Chinese)

The law does not at all specify that teachers must, in the face of danger, save their students, but helping vulnerable children in crisis is human nature.

On Dec. 14, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut experienced a school shooting which resulted in 28 deaths, including 20 six- and seven-year-old children. This is the most serious shooting to occur at an elementary school in American history.

Police and media information reveal that Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher killed in the shooting, used her body as a shield against shots fired at the students. Sandy Hook Elementary School’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was likewise killed after trying to stop the gunman’s assault. The children’s performance was also admirable. A school shooting is unfortunate, but at the time, the teachers’ brilliant display of humanity and the students’ sense of community allow one to find a shred of comfort even amidst grief.

Let’s take a look at the response of the teachers in this school at the time of the shooting. According to a Central China TV Station report, Brenda, the parent of a lucky eight-year-old girl, says it was fortunate the teacher shut the children in a closet, allowing them to escape unharmed. As gunshots sounded, first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig immediately hid her students in the classroom toilet. She says, "If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, 'It's going to be OK.' I wanted that to be the last thing they heard, not the gunfire in the hall."

The children’s performance is also noteworthy. After the incident, photos of policemen organizing the children’s evacuation spread over the Internet. One can see the children with their heads down, each with both hands placed on the shoulders of the preceding child, still in shock, hearts full of fear, but still they remained in orderly lines to evacuate.

School security incidents are manifested differently around the world according to the various conditions of each nation, but the methods applied when facing disasters have similiarities. Some years ago, the public debated extensively over the “Runner Fan” incident. Runner Fan’s theory of “run first” has received support from more than a few people. But in light of the teachers’ performances in the U.S. shooting, “run first” behavior undermines human nature — the law does not at all specify that teachers must, in the face of danger, save their students, but helping vulnerable children in crisis is dictated by human nature.

Looking at this small town — considered to be the safest of communities, with no violent occurrences in the past 300 years — although its teachers and students did not take precautionary measures against a shooting, their performance during the incident was certainly a result of families’ educating their children on rule consciousness, as well as the school’s and teachers’ fulfillment of their responsibilities as guardians. This is worth borrowing for our country’s schools. This kind of education is not specifically targeted at possible security incidents, but thorough, precise education can at any moment demonstrate such strength.



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