When I was in Jr. High School in Gaithersburg, MD a classmate walked up behind me and held a knife to my throat during a multi-class science lab experiment.
He said he was going to kill me because of something one of his friends told him I had said about him. I had not said it.
Three teachers pretended not to see this happening because they didn’t want to get involved in an altercation with this known troublemaker.
I managed to survive the encounter.
When we were brought before the school principal, this kid was told to dispose of his illegal switchblade knife and was suspended for two days.
My parents were not informed by the school, they did not find out until I told them.
That’s when we got the police involved for aggravated assault charges.
At different points during their investigation this kid tried to kill his mother, himself, and at least one cop. He would spend several years receiving mandatory inpatient psychiatric care.
Meanwhile, his friends decided to jump me one day after school for “ratting on him.”
I did not win that fight.
I also did not lose it.
As a result, the school administration thought my own use of extreme violence in self defense — thanks to martial arts training — against multiple attackers who were close friends with someone who had already tried to kill me warranted the necessity of me receiving psychiatric counseling in order to be allowed to stay in school.
To this day, 4 decades later, I still cannot sit comfortably with my back to a room and ever vigilant threat assessment is automatic.
Thankfully, this — and extreme discomfort wearing a tie with the knot pressing on my throat — is the extent of my PTSD from these attacks which I endured in the 7th grade.
Today, we train preschool kids to look for their emergency exits on playground areas and to not only know, but practice, what to do when bullets start flying on campus.
There is no point in their public lives from that moment on that they are not dealing with the same situational combat awareness stress that makes it difficult for war-time vets to readjust to normal day-to-day life when returning home.
This is our fault.
Because we refuse to reasonably regulate the right to bear arms.
If that boy had a gun instead of a knife, I would have died in a 7th grade science class.
And now we also add the trauma of complete strangers attempting to harm them through anti-public safety protocols — refusing vaccines, social distancing, and masks — during a pandemic health crisis as they cough and sneeze on grocery produce and in small spaces with recycled air. They assault retail and food service workers and flight attendants for trying to enforce the rules. They stand outside elementary schools and scream profanities and threats at educators and kids who are just trying to survive the day.
It’s a miracle any of these kids remain functional.
Some days, I think it’s a miracle I do, and I had it much easier than these kids today.