Like many educators across America, Humble Middle School teacher Tanai Benard is practicing lockdown drills in case there is a school shooting. But a conversation with her children revealed that her 5th grade son Dez has volunteered, along with three other boys, to be human shields. Their job is to stand in-between the shooter and the rest of the class to protect them. The single mom of three posted the rest of the conversation on Facebook which has since gone viral.
While in the car on the way to school, Texas teacher asked her son if his class was taking the drills seriously. She made him describe what they had been instructed to do in the event that the school came under attack. Dez told his mom that the teacher would shut the classroom door, lock it, and cover the door window with black paper. Then he and three other boys would push the table against the door.
Dez told Benard that the boys would line up along the back wall of the classroom while the rest of the class hid behind them. His mom’s heart dropped. It is bad enough that children have to be taught how to protect themselves should a gunman decide to ambush a building full of helpless youth, but her 10-year-old son was telling her that he was going to risk his life to save others. Benard had questions.
“I internally went from 0 to 100 real quick. My child is one of only 2 black children in a class of 23,” Benard wrote. “Being transparent, I immediately went to the ‘why is my black son being put on the front line?’ (Just being real) So I asked before I verbally stated my thoughts.”
My 5th grader and I were conversing on the way to work/school this morning. As an educator, I wanted to be sure he and…
Benard assumed that her son had been assigned this particular role in the drill, but Dez floored her with his response. He actually hadn’t been chosen at all. The rest of the conversation went this way:
Me: Why did you get picked to stand in front of everyone else if a shooter came in your school?
Dez: I didn’t get picked. I volunteered to push the table and protect my friends
Me: 😯*immediate nausea * Dez why would you volunteer to do that?
Dez: If it came down to it I would rather be the one that died protecting my friends then have an entire class die and I be the only one that lived.
In an interview with KHOU-TV, Dez said that he’d had the opportunity to travel the world with his mom and two siblings and felt that he had already lived a great life. The little boy wanted his friends to have that chance as well. But the conversation has left his mother grossly conflicted. While Benard doesn’t want to risk losing her son, how could she tell him not to perform such a selfless act? What’s even more disturbing is the fact that our children even have to make that kind of decision in the first place.
“Father God, it took everything out of me not to breakdown. I still have a lump in my throat,” Benard wrote. “(Ten) damn years old and this has to be our babies thought process in America.”