Protecting your children in today’s world

How did we even get here? I just read an article about how to protect your children in an active shooter situation. I hate that this is even a thing!

Originally published in 2017.

The world we live in

Seemingly every day lately there has been a news report about a mass shooting, stabbing, suicide bomb or terrorist attack. France, Belgium, Turkey, Germany, Iraq, Japan, USA … all over the world. Living in New Zealand, we are far, far away from the troubles of the world – or we like to think so. I do take some comfort in the fact that our little country at the bottom of the Pacific does tend to get forgotten about sometimes. This is my ‘get out of jail free’ card when channel surfing inadvertently reveals another shocking news report to my wide-eyed children. It’s all far away. Plus, the good guys always win, right?

When it all changed

I can distinctly remember the moment I realised my children would grow up in a world that had changed. My partner and I had just returned from a two week road trip in North America. Our trip finished in New York, just seven weeks after 9/11. The city was on edge, emotional and broken. Each day we travelled through the tunnels to Manhattan we saw heavily armed police. Every time a fire engine passed by in the street, everyone would stop and stare silently, watching it go past, then go about their day, heads down. Ground Zero, still smoldering, was beyond words. We passed the thousands of messages, tributes and missing persons posters pinned to fences and walls, silent but with tears in our eyes for the families torn apart.

Just days before arriving in New York, I discovered that I was pregnant. Arriving back in the UK where we were living at the time, I can clearly recall sitting in the bedroom, staring out the window, consumed by a thought – the thought that my baby would never get the chance to live in a world that hadn’t seen the atrocities of that day.

That’s not to say that the world was perfect before that day. Far from it. Prior to 9/11, I had heard IRA bombs go off in London, been stuck in a tube train while a suspect package was investigated and kept in lockdown in an office because of a bomb exploding at the train station. It’s just that it never felt like the whole world was on a downward spiral of hate – not back then.


Day to day criminal activity can often impact on our children. My kids have been in lockdown at their school a couple of times. Thankfully, they were just precautionary. Whilst we don’t want to scare our kids, it is important that they always follow instructions in an emergency situation and so lockdown drills are commonplace in schools now.

A Michigan mum had the reality of active shooter situations brought home to her when she asked her daughter why she was standing on the toilet seat in the bathroom. Her child’s response was a harsh reminder of the world we are passing on to our kids.

Safety first

Although we certainly don’t have a high threat level here in New Zealand, some of the suggestions made by Rachel Norman in her article, ‘How to protect your children in an active shooter situation‘ are valid for any country and any emergency situation, including:

  • Think about what you would do in an emergency situation BEFORE it happens.
  • If a place or situation makes you feel uneasy, leave. Never doubt that mother’s instinct!
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Look, listen, and observe what is happening around you.
  • When indoors, know where the exits are.
  • Practice kid ‘wrangling’. If you had to leave where you are right now with all of your kids, could you do it quickly? Who do you carry? Who can grab your hand and run? Can older children take younger ones?
  • Know how your equipment works. Can you work like a ninja to get that five point pushchair harness off in seconds? Do you know how to quickly turn the sound off on your phone?

And most of all, teach and nurture your child’s compassion, acceptance, empathy and kindness, in the hope that one day they won’t have to teach their children how to survive a terrorist attack or active shooter situation.

her world julieWritten by Julie Scanlon

Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”


  1. SarahBlair 16/10/2017 at 8:35 am

    This actually terrifies me as a parent! To know that there are people out there who will intentionally hunt down others to cause them harm, its unfathomable! It’s so easy for us in New Zealand to become complacent, being so far away from the rest of the world but its a very real threat. My eldest son is going to Germany next month and while I am so excited for him to get out and see the world I know how unsafe it could be, I am very nervous as well.

  2. Jaqui 10/10/2017 at 7:10 pm

    I often think about how the scary the big old world is…especially now that I have a precious child amongst it. Watching the news and some of the horrors of curing daily in other parts of the world I am so grateful that we live in New Zealand! I teach my daughter about safety and at her level I do not sugar coat things…i try to be real and honest with her.
    I know I cannot shield her from every bad thing but hope to instill in her the ability to cope with whatever life throws at her

  3. kymmage 06/10/2017 at 11:50 am

    Both of my kids have been through a recent lock down at school. It didn’t seem to affect my youngest but my eldest was affected somewhat by the rumours afterwards. I find they are more affected by international news than local, because it’s more terror filled I guess. My youngest has been really focussed on the hurricanes and things and wanting to know what we can do. So we talk about the helpers and ways we can donate.

  4. Angelgirl081 05/10/2017 at 7:50 pm

    A timely reminder with the recent mass shooting at the music festival. It is stuff you don’t want to think about but definitely need to in this day and age unfortunately.
    We have practised the obvious things like fire and earthquake but I will need to think of a plan in case of those other scenarios with miss 4.

  5. Bevik1971 05/10/2017 at 6:42 pm

    Wow that picture and story almost made me cry, I have a 4 year old and yes living in NZ we are pretty lucky. In saying that there is hate and danger everywhere and really sad to see jus thow much the world has changed even from when I was a kid. I’ve never been to USA or anywhere like that, have only seen on TV etc so can’t even imagine what it would be like living through anything that atrocious

  6. Jen_Wiig 05/10/2017 at 6:17 pm

    Oh my gosh this is a real eye opener!! I all too often just sit in awe of what’s going on around the world but never once in complete honesty thought to have my boys prepared for any of those situations… I guess because we stay close to home and don’t travel abroad I felt safe and secure… But if course kids grow up.. They may have an opportunity of a lifetime and travel away from home with or without me and God knows if any of them would know what to do… God forbid found themselves in a dire situation…. I’ve been so focused on keeping them safe from online predators and strangers in the neighbourhood I hadn’t thought of these quite real sad situations happening in a daily basis all around us… I’m glad I read this… Now we have school holiday homework and an active plan to practice together as a family

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