A Dallas school district has drawn backlash from parents after it gave elementary school students a Winnie the Pooh-themed book that teaches kids how to « run, hide, fight » in dangerous situations like a mass shooting.
Cindy Campos, whose two children attend an elementary school in the Dallas Independent School District, said she wasn’t sure what to do when her youngest, who is in kindergarten, came home from school last week with the book titled « Stay Safe. »
The book, Ms. Campos said, had been stuffed into her son’s backpack with no notes or instructions.
« If danger is near, fear not, » the book reads. « Hide like Pooh does until the police appear. »
At first, Ms. Campos said she wondered if it was a gift from her son’s teacher. But later that evening, she found the same book in the backpack of her oldest son, a first grader. It was then that she said that she began to wonder if the book was a school district initiative.
« The book was not something I wanted, » Ms. Campos said. « It’s unsolicited advice. »
Other parents also complained, asking why the book was distributed without instructions and calling the distribution « deaf » for being shared so close to the anniversary of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed.
The book distribution also came about a week after a gunman shot and killed eight people, including three children, at an outdoor mall on May 6 in Allen, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas.
« After I read them a book, they have about 50 questions, » Ms. Campos said. « How do you go to bed telling them, ‘Yeah, this is what you do if you get shot in school,’ and then let them go to sleep? »
« This is a nightmare waiting to happen, » he said.
The book also caught the attention of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who continued Chirping Tuesday that « Winnie the Pooh is now teaching Texas kids about active shooters because elected officials lack the courage to protect our children and pass common-sense gun safety laws. »
In a statement on Friday, the school district said the book was being shipped home « so parents could discuss with their children about how to stay safe » in dangerous situations at schools, such as a shooting. However, the district admitted it should have provided parents with a book guide.
“We work every day to prevent school shootings by addressing online threats and strengthening our schools,” the district said in an email. “A booklet was sent home recently so that parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe in these cases. Unfortunately, we haven’t provided parents with any guidance or context. We apologize for the confusion and are grateful to the parents who have helped us be better partners. »
The district did not disclose how many books were distributed or which schools and grades received them.
The Texas Education Agency, which oversees schools statewide, said Friday that the book was not part of an agency-wide initiative and referred questions about the book to the Dallas school district.
Ms Campos said the book has not been addressed by the school principal or her teachers. The school principal did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The book is published by Praetorian Consulting, a Houston-based company that provides training and services in safety, security, and crisis management. Friday did not respond to requests for comment.
The book, written by Ken Adcox, the owner of Praetorian, and Brittany Adcox-Flores, doesn’t explicitly mention guns. Instead, it refers to threats as « danger » and « something is wrong ».
Mr. Adcox did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, and Ms. Adcox-Flores could not be reached immediately.
The « Stay Safe » book was created by Texas police officers and teachers to teach elementary school students how to « stay safe and protect themselves in the event of a dangerous school break-in, » Praetorian said in his website.
The company said the material, which features « famous and beloved characters » from Winnie the Pooh, teaches the « run, hide, fight » response, which is recommended in an active shooter situation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Winnie the Pooh, originally published in 1926, entered the public domain last year, allowing for adaptations of its characters.
« It is our belief, » said Praetorian, « that as with other school safety strategies such as fire drills, pedestrian safety and stranger danger, the concepts of Run, Hide, Fight should be discussed regularly with students of all ages. » .
The National Association of School Psychologists recommends that parents and teachers speak in elementary school children about violence should provide « short, simple information that should be balanced with reassurance that their school and home are safe and that adults are there to protect them, » according to guidance from the organization.
Parents and teachers should remind young children of safety examples, such as locked doors, the organization said in guidance on its website. The National Association of School Psychologists did not respond to a request for comment about the Winnie the Pooh book.
Ms. Campos said the school district’s distribution of the book looked like an attempt to « normalize » a wave of gun violence across the country.
« It’s heartbreaking, » Ms Campos said of having to talk to her children about gun violence. « We shouldn’t have to talk to them about it, and it’s so hard as a parent. »
Eventually, Ms. Campos said, she gave in and read the book by her youngest son, who is 5.
« There was no way she wouldn’t let me read it, » Ms Campos said, adding that her son was interested because of Winnie the Pooh.
« I’m finishing the book crying, and he says, ‘Why are you crying?' »