It’s a question I ponder every time I part with my children. I teach in the college classroom, and I lived through a mass shooting.
But my kids don’t experience these emotions when they hug my neck and wave goodbye. They truly believe I will return.
And all the way to the office, I pray that they are right.
When I was in graduate school, I studied infectious diseases. The next great public health crisis will result from overpopulation or mosquitoes, I remember learning.
A few years later, Ebola arrived. Then Zika.
But I would argue there is a serious epidemic emerging in a more sterile environment: higher education. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with young adults. Their promise and intellectual gifts give me hope for the future, and, let’s be honest, they sharpen my own knowledge.
Only mental health services aren’t what they should be. Examine any university and you will see a disturbing trend: there are too many students and not enough counselors and psychologists. Additionally, high-stakes testing and a decline in the family unit have only placed further pressure on young minds.
And, sometimes, life gets really heavy.
My wake-up call came almost two years ago. I was five months pregnant and my husband was out of town. During instruction, one of my students stole my cell phone.
Internal panic ensued. I no longer felt safe in my job. And suddenly the years of healing following April 16, 2007 were undone.
Now, my classroom door remains locked.
Now, I look for red flags.
Now, I contemplate my return home.
Yesterday, a student threatened harm on the campus of The Ohio State University. Every day I prepare myself for the unknown danger that may be present on my own campus.
But you’ve got to trust them to teach them, Lauren.
So I squeeze my children a little tighter.