Firearms recently became the number one cause of death for children and teens in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and those caused by other injuries, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. There have been 377 school shootings since Columbine, with over 349,000 students experiencing gun violence at school. While some view Abeir Elbaba’s approach as extreme, she is not alone in her desire to do everything she can to keep her child safe.
WTOL11 in Toledo recently reported on the viral TikTok video that has over a million views and counting. In the video, the sounds of an assault rifle can be heard in the background as Abeir Elbaba guides her 8 year old son, Abdallah, through an active shooter drill. Abdallah grabs his backpack, which carries two bulletproof plates, and places it over his head and chest while crouching in the corner. His mother reminds him that he “won’t die” if he’s shot in the hand or foot.
Shock Value or Necessary Preparation?
This video is jarring for many parents. Some question whether drills like this can do more harm than good for a young child. According to Everytown USA, “Active shooter drills in schools are associated with increases in depression (39%), stress and anxiety (42%), and physiological health problems (23%) overall, including children from as young as five years old up to high schoolers, their parents, and teachers.”
However, moms like Abeir feel this preparation is necessary. She says the shooting in Nashville. which left three grade school children dead, convinced her it’s never too early to prepare him for the unthinkable.
“When I send my son off, it’s the feeling of uncertainty that really gets to me,” she said. “I just want to send my son off, and know he’s going to be safe, he’s going to be protected, and if anything happens he’s going to be covered.”
A Unique American Problem
She noted that many people commented on her video with sorrow. They said “only in America” would a parent need to do something like this.
The data supports these sentiments. A recent study found that gun violence has affected 54% of American families. Nearly 1 in 5 adults has had a family member killed by a gun, including in homicide and suicide. About as many adults have been personally threatened with a gun, and about 1 in 6 adults has witnessed an injury from a shooting, the survey found.
According to Sandy Hook Promise, Each day 12 children die from gun violence in America. Another 32 are shot and injured. While school shootings are a terrifying element of gun violence, many more children face danger at home. An estimated 4.6 million American children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked. These improperly stored weapons have contributed to school shootings, suicides and the deaths of family members, including infants and toddlers.
Many parents have found other ways to advocate for their children and help solve this gun violence epidemic. Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan group with over 10 million members. According to their website, they are “a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.”