Local teacher writes children’s book to ease talks of violence, lockdown drills

Special Reports

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There have been more than 400 school shooting incidents since 2010. One local teacher found a way to make the harsh realities easier on kids.

Sister Debbie Timmis CSJ, Principal of Mater Christi school in Albany, says they have four required lockdown drills a year. 

“It’s become part of the fabric of the safety of our children,” Timmis said. 

But can a realistic lockdown drill have negative effects on the mind of a child between kindergarten and first grade? Psychology Professor Nicole Arduini-Van Hoose says adults and older children have the ability to mitigate their concerns by thinking about the likelihood of bad things happening. 

She says that isn’t the case for young children. 

“If that information is available to them, they are more likely to think, ‘this is something that could really happen to me,’” Arduini-Van Hoose said.

Teacher and author Alicia Stenard knew there had to be a better way to teach young kids about how to act in a lockdown drill; one that didn’t involve talk of guns and violence, but rather, of circus trucks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Stenard wrote a picture book called “Elephant in The Room: A Lockdown Story.”

“The premise is, the children are in school, and the circus truck breaks down in front of the school,” Stenard said.

It’s targeted for children ages 3 to 8. Stenard says this is because students’ imaginations at that age make the book work. 

She says parents and teachers are relieved they now have an alternative to keep their kids safe without telling them about bad guys with evil intentions. 

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