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Some adults struggle with what to tell kids

Lorraine Nolan picks up her kids, Justin and Casidy, from Bear Creek Community Charter School on Tuesday.

Times Leader Staff Photo/S. John wilkin

The thought of the five Amish girls killed at school Monday unsettled Shelia McDaniel. Her four daughters are about the same age as the Lancaster County victims.

Less than a week earlier, a drifter took six girls hostage in a Bailey, Colo., high school and reportedly sexually assaulted several before shooting one and killing himself. That, too, hit home.

“It scares me because both of these men targeted young girls,” McDaniel said. “I take my girls to and from school because I don’t even like them to ride the bus.”

McDaniel’s oldest daughter, Lauren, 15, attends Meyers High School. Her three younger girls, LeAnne, 9, Bailey, 8, and Abby, 5, are students at nearby Kistler Elementary School.

“It’s scary to know he got into the school,” Lauren said referring to Charles Carl Roberts IV, the man state police said killed the five girls. “Meyers has the buzz-system, so I think we’re safe.”

“Hopefully,” said her mother.

Parents differ on how they address a violent topic such as a school shooting with their children.

Lindsey Weidow, the mother of a 5-year-old Kistler student, said the recent string of shootings prompted her to talk to her daughter about how to handle a similar situation. She told the child to look for any way out of the school.

“I just sat her down calmly and talked to her about it,” she said. “I mean she’s 5, can you imagine? It’s terrible. Too many innocent kids are being brought into this.”

Others, like Glenn Beuhring of Wilkes-Barre, said he’d rather not put unnecessary fear into his child’s mind.

Beuhring, the legal guardian of 8-year-old Kistler student Alec, said he can’t think of an appropriate way to explain the recent incidents.

“There are so many things that can happen that you can’t control,” Beuhring said. “To tell him about this would scare him. Parents try their (best) to remove their kids from the bad things in the world, but bad things are everywhere.”

Five girls, ages 7 to 13, died and five other girls remain hospitalized after Monday’s shooting in the one-room Amish schoolhouse.

On Sept. 27, Duane Morrison, 53, ordered boys out of a Bailey, Colo., high school classroom and sexually assaulted some of the six girls he held hostage before he shot and killed one of them, then turned the gun on himself.

On Friday, 15-year-old Eric Hainstock entered a rural school in Cazenovia, Wis., and fatally shot the principal.

Two parents interviewed outside the Bear Creek Community Charter School said that it’s best to avoid talking about the recent shootings unless their children mention it first.

“They probably are not too aware of it,” said Pam Gurtis, the mother of children in first and fourth grades. “I find myself sheltering them from the information that’s out there.”

Lorraine Nolan, whose children are 8 and 6, said she wouldn’t mention it unless her children brought it up. So far, they haven’t. “I’m not concerned about that here, so it’s not something we’d normally discuss.”

The Bear Creek Township school, she said, has security measures in place that would prevent someone from entering the building.

“I can’t even get in unless I buzz and someone lets me in,” said chief academic officer Jan Solkov. “We already have a good system and we already had plans in the works to improve on it.”

The school will install new access doors at the front and rear entrances and a camera system, according to the chief operations officer Jim Smith. Security cards will be necessary to open the new doors.

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