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American Mom Talks About Active Shooter Drills at US Preschool & Regrets Leaving SG

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“My 6-year-old who still really can’t tie his shoes properly, does active shooter drills at his school and can tell you exactly what to do if a “scary monster” makes their way in with a gun.”

Kristen Mooney is an American mom of two (and an ex-Sassy Mama team member) who lived in Singapore for 2 years before moving back to her home country. In the aftermath of the Nashville School Shooting, where three kids and three adults were tragically killed by a 28-year-old, Kristen shares her thoughts on gun crime in the US, the sad reality of active shooter drills in schools and why she is having second thoughts on her decision to leave Singapore and its safety. We also have information on lockdown drills in Singapore schools (both local and international).

Sandy Hook. Columbine. Robb Elementary. Now Nashville. These are just some of the names on the insanely long list of US schools that have suffered from mass shootings. The very schools that we as parents send our children to, in order to learn, grow, play, and make friends, the very places where we send our babies to for their formative years have now become arguably one of the most dangerous places in the community. The CDC now reports firearm related incidents as the #1 cause of death for children and teens in the US.

Active shooter drills /lockdown drills at school

My 6-year-old does active shooter drills at his school. My 6-year-old, who still really can’t tie his shoes properly can tell you exactly what to do if a “scary monster” makes their way into a school with a gun. These drills are practised at the same frequency as tornado and fire drills. I am an American mom and this is my reality for my children. It’s an issue that we think about daily now. This is not the childhood I had. The mental health crisis and people insisting on their right to bear arms is robbing our children of childhood.

Childrens’ right to safety is more important than the right to bear arms

The US’s answer to mass shootings by approximately half the government is more or less “MORE GUNS”. There is talk about arming the teachers or having more armed security at schools. It took me leaving my home country and spending time abroad in places like Singapore to learn and really understand and agree with other countries that see the obvious – that more guns is not the answer. My family had the fortunate experience to live abroad for 5 years in countries similar to the US in the way that they were wealthy, developed countries. These countries have various gun control laws.

Take Australia for example, where my oldest son started his educational experience. In 1996 Martin Bryant opened fire in a Tasmania cafe, killing 35 people. The Australian government quickly put laws into place (albeit with plenty of backlash) banning semi and automatic firearms, amongst other measures. Combined with a buyback program, Australia reduced civilian gun ownership by 20%, and since then, there has only been one mass shooting. In the US, there have been over 200 reported in 2022 alone.

We felt 100% safe in Singapore

When we lived in Singapore, we felt 100% safe. They have a saying that “low crime doesn’t mean no crime” but the schools are significantly safer in more ways than one and I never had a doubt or second thought about sending my older son to school. Singapore schools still practice active shooter drills as an emergency response even though civilian gun ownership is completely illegal.

When we moved back to the US from Singapore in Christmas of 2021, we ruled out living in states that are typically considered more “gun-happy”. Every day I send my boy to school, silently grateful that my school’s rules mean that the school doors are locked. As a parent, I can’t get in for any reason and if I’m picking up my kid early, I wait outside for him to be brought to me. But not every state in America locks their main doors, and even if they did, locked doors are not enough.

I have second thoughts about our decision to leave Singapore, and its safety

My husband and I still have second thoughts about our decision to leave Singapore, and its safety.

I have seen more talk about guns after this latest incident and a small part of me has some hope. There’s been a lot of desensitization to this issue and we cannot let that happen. For the first time, I signed a petition to our state Senator. Our children deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. We need to put new, significantly stricter gun control laws in place around the types of guns that civilians are allowed to own and how they acquire them. My hopes are that my home country will follow the lead of so many other countries and make changes. In my mind, there is no bigger “right” than the right of our children to feel safe. Until this happens many American families are simply depending on a locked door.

Thank you Kristen for sharing your thoughts with us.

If you are a parent in Singapore and would like more information about active shooter drills in your school here is some information on ‘lock down’ drill procedures in most international schools and ‘Run-Hide-Tell’ drills in local schools.

Lockdown drills in international schools in Singapore

Most international schools practice some kind of emergency drill or lockdown drill. The lockdown drill is designed to familiarise students with what to do if there was an emergency in school. International schools often inform parents by email when they are having this drill and most schools will also start talking to children about what to expect and the reason for the procedure without worrying them. Often teachers address the matter in terms of ‘keeping safe around school’.

What happens at a lockdown drill? Some schools may have a different variation of this but there is usually an alert that is sounded on the school’s tannoy system that indicates to staff that the lockdown procedure is in place. Staff will secure the doors to the classrooms. Students and staff will shelter under the tables in their rooms where they will remain quietly and calmly until the all clear sounds.

‘Run-Hide-Tell’ drills in local schools in Singapore

Local schools conduct emergency drills such as fire and lockdown drills for students and staff at least twice a year, according to the Ministry of Education. Lockdown drills, which include the “Run-Hide-Tell” response, are activated when there is a terrorist threat on school premises, although they can be applied to other forms of security threats, such as the recent River Valley High School incident on 19 July 2021.

RUN: Move quickly and quietly away from danger using the safest route.
HIDE: Stay out of sight, be quiet and switch your phone to silent mode. Lock yourself in the classroom and stay away from the doors.
TELL: Call a teacher or provide information to the Police by calling 999, SMSing 71999 or using the SGSecure App.

If you have questions about your school’s lockdown drills do be in touch to ask them to clarify when this will take place so you can speak to your child in advance.

Read More: SAVE THIS LIST! Emergency Numbers and Helplines in Singapore

If you have been affected by the recent news, do speak to a counsellor. Here are some other helpful numbers:

Crisis Helpline (24/7)
– Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221 4444
– Institute of Mental Health Helpline: 6389 2222
– Brahm Centre Assistline: Weekdays (9am – 6pm): 6655 0000, After hours: 8823 0000 (WhatsApp available)
– Chat Hub at *Scape 6493 6500 or email [email protected]

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Lead image from Zuma via the Mother Jones Facebook page. First published in May 2022, updated in 2023

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